Lehman Responds: 6 Questions For The Vice Chancellor

After Vice Chancellor Lehman’s email, “Update Concerning Fall 2020 Semester,” many in the international student community were left disappointed and full of concerns (which are outlined in Isabella Cuellar's article "NYU Shanghai's International Sdents Face Uncertainty for Fall 2020"). OCA reached out to the Vice Chancellor in order to gain clarification on several of these issues, and asked him several of these pressing questions.

All students who are outside China will be included in our second submission

1. After the update was released, several seniors and super seniors felt that their situation was, like the freshman, unique, and believe that not returning to campus poses many disadvantages such as not being able to properly complete their capstones.  How are they being prioritized in returning to Shanghai? How do you recommend seniors approach the coming semester, and will they be prioritized in the next sponsored cohort?

The authorities have not asked us to break the second group into subgroups; all students who are outside China will be included in our second submission. As the Class of 2020 can testify, it is challenging for seniors to be away from campus, and we will continue to do our best to help members of the Class of 2021 who are outside China be able to return. 

We have not been given an upper limit on the number of international students who can return. We are working very hard to ensure that all international first years and all upper class international students who wish to return can join their Chinese classmates as soon as possible.

2. How do you think not having most international students on campus will affect the balance, friendships and diversity effectiveness between national and international students? Also, has the government provided NYUSH with an upper limit to how many international students can return?

We have not been given an upper limit on the number of international students who can return. We are working very hard to ensure that all international first years and all upper class international students who wish to return can join their Chinese classmates as soon as possible. The Shanghai Municipal Education Commission is very supportive of NYU Shanghai’s commitment to sustaining an environment where all students have the opportunity to experience a multicultural community every single day.

But it does not cost our university less to operate in mixed mode; to the contrary, we are being forced to manage new expenses that we do not ordinarily face.

3. Many students feel that remote learning should not come with the same tuition. What is NYU’s rationale for not lowering fees?

Students who are not on campus are justified in feeling that their college experience has been diminished by the pandemic and its consequences. But it does not cost our university less to operate in mixed mode; to the contrary, we are being forced to manage new expenses that we do not ordinarily face. We believe that students who study remotely will still receive an education of exceptional value, one that will prepare them for lives of satisfaction and contribution. If a student does not agree, they should consider pursuing a gap semester.

We are working to solicit charitable contributions.

4. Many students are concerned that mandatory quarantine will not be subsidized. Why is this?

We are working to solicit charitable contributions that would allow us to support students for whom the costs of mandatory quarantine impose financial hardship.

It is unfortunate that today’s international travel restrictions make it impossible for some students to take advantage of the program. For those students, we are offering a choice between staying on schedule towards graduation through a high-quality remote learning program and taking a leave of absence until international travel resumes.

5. Some students who are international minorities with less advantaged visas feel that they are disadvantaged because many of their countries do not have a Go Local option. How is NYU Shanghai ensuring equity of treatment between students during this time? 

Because of its global network, New York University was unique in its capacity to establish a Go Local program that benefits most of its students around the world. (As you know, NYU Shanghai draws students from more than 80 different countries.) It is unfortunate that today’s international travel restrictions make it impossible for some students to take advantage of the program. For those students, we are offering a choice between staying on schedule towards graduation through a high-quality remote learning program and taking a leave of absence until international travel resumes.

All “Go Local” students will need to complete a health orientation and adhere to the same NYU Shanghai Code of Conduct during COVID-19.

6. The administration has announced that it will be hosting 3000 Go Local students from New York and Abu Dhabi this semester. In addition to a second campus, what arrangements does the school have in place to make this possible? How is the school ensuring that with over double the occupancy we had last fall, the health and safety of students and faculty won’t be compromised?

NYU Shanghai has secured an additional 7,000 square meters of classroom and learning space through two WeWork facilities that are located one subway station from the Academic Building on Century Avenue. The facilities have ample capacity to accommodate the new students. We have worked closely with the city of Shanghai to ensure that the temporary locations will follow the same “responsible reopening” protocols that we follow here in the AB. All “Go Local” students will need to complete a health orientation and adhere to the same NYU Shanghai Code of Conduct during COVID-19.

This article was written by Steph Scaglia based in San Francisco, California. Please send an email to scs626@nyu.edu to get in touch.

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