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Election conspirators, CEOs who profit from immigrant detention, and other advocates of inequality have no place at the helm of NYU. These directors should be removed from their posts.
The presence of an electoral plot and the CEO of an investment firm with massive stakes in private prisons and immigration concentration camp operators proves the NYU board of directors contradicts the statement of the university goals diversity and inclusion. Board of directors – a group of volunteers who are responsible for “defining the overall strategic direction of the University” – should not include members who disregard the ideals of diversity and inclusion.
Maria Bartiromo, Laurence D. Fink and Kelly Kennedy Mack must be removed from their posts if NYU cares about its mission beyond hype.
If you scroll down the NYU website, you will find many references to the university commitment to diversity and inclusion. After Black Lives Matter raised awareness of the impact of structural racism on minorities, many institutions realized that they had an important role to play in the fight against racism. NYU deserves praise for organization anti-racist programs and other initiatives, but these actions are woefully insufficient, especially when members of the university’s board of directors strongly oppose these values.
Recent WSN report highlights the controversial story of Maria Bartiromo, a Trump-aligned Fox commentator who advanced the former president’s conspiracy theories regarding the November election and the January 6 insurgency. Driven by blind partisan hatred, she claims that there were “enough illegal votes in Georgia to tip the 2020 results.” As well as being factually inaccurate, he also despises the millions of black voters who proved in support of the Biden-Harris ticket and Democratic Senate candidates in November and January, respectively. His baseless allegations of widespread fraud also erase history the participation rate other minority groups and young people. If you are one of those young people who voted against Trump, Bartiromo doesn’t think your vote should count. She may even believe you were involved in voter fraud. It is inconceivable that a far-right electoral plot would have a substantial voice towards NYU.
Bartiromo also alleged that the United States is not a systematically racist country – willfully ignoring that decades of redlining have left black New Yorkers 40% more likely have asthma than white New Yorkers. Even though the stop-and-frisk was theoretically interrupted, blacks constituted 56% of NYPD stops last year, with most of the stops concentrated in the city’s black communities. Does Bartiromo consider these injustices to be a mere coincidence? Structural racism is as much a part of New York as the Empire State Building. Bartiromo is not fit to be a leader in this university which prides itself on being included while not being educated on the racism that black and brown students face.
Other board members contradict NYU’s mission. As WSN reported Last spring, Vice President Laurence D. Fink’s investment firm, BlackRock, invested in funds that Support fossil fuel companies, manufacturers of nuclear weapons parts, construction companies contracted to build the Mexico-US border wall, US Department of Defense contractors, and private concentration camp operators from US Immigration and Customs. Fink actively takes advantage of inhumane detention centers, exclusionary immigration policies, major drivers of climate change, weapons and war. Certainly, a university which has already spoken out against harmful ICE policies should not have a trustee actively profiting from some of those same policies.
The contradictions don’t end with Bartiromo and Fink. Kelly Kennedy Mack, who sits on five committees and chairs two, is the President of Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group, a real estate development company. In 2006, the year Mack was named president of Corcoran Sunshine, federal agents accused Corcoran Sunshine’s parent company directs white shoppers to traditionally white neighborhoods, discriminates against black customers, and offers incentives to white customers who rent in white neighborhoods. His company’s discrimination against black clients should be a cause for removal from the board, which should embody anti-racism and inclusiveness.
All of the aforementioned board members should be removed from their posts. Article 17 of NYU’s bylaws provide that directors may be removed from office by simple majority vote, provided the 60% quorum is met. Trustees looking to represent student interests should remove Bartiromo, Fink and Mack from the board.
University president Andrew Hamilton may also play a role in removing the three board members. As a person who sentenced conspiracy theories regarding elections and Express solidarity with the black community of NYU following the murder of George Floyd, he should publicly call for the impeachment of Bartiromo, Fink and Mack. Hamilton should also exercise his power to Trustee ex officio and support the removal of the three trustees. In doing so, he will demonstrate that the university’s commitment to racial justice is more than just performative.
NYU proudly States its commitment to its diverse student body on its website, writing: “You are an irreplaceable part of NYU’s unique and diverse community, a community committed to fostering inclusion, excellence, learning, growth and leadership of its students. These are wonderful feelings from NYU, but they remain dissatisfied every day that Bartiromo, Fink, and Mack continue to serve on the board. All three have shown a clear disregard for inclusion, both in their rhetoric and in their actions. Bartiromo in particular downplayed and erased the experiences of NYU’s black and brown population. It’s wonderful that “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson was the central title of the NYU Reads initiative of 2020, but what does it do when an administrator doesn’t believe the mass incarceration described in the book has anything to do with racism? Hamilton was right to condemn ICE for unfairly targeting international students, but what do these statements mean when an administrator takes advantage of ICE’s unfair and racist policies?
If NYU is as serious about inclusion as it claims to be, Bartiromo, Fink and Mack will be removed from the board. Inaction will validate the fears of so many students that NYU’s racial justice statements make no sense and are just an attempt to avoid backlash.
A version of this article appeared in the electronic edition of Monday, September 13, 2021. Contact the Editorial Board at [email protected]