A official-looking flyer found at an NYU student center, telling tuition-challenged students to consider CUNY instead, was a fake. As NYU spokesman John Beckman put it, "Another satirical triumph for desktop publishing." Still, it provoked a discussion about private and public universities, especially as college tuition costs have grown about 450% since 1982-1984.

Now the group responsible for the stunt writes to us. Take a look at the statement from "Students Creating Radical Change" (who might pose as fake financial aid officers, maybe).

Okay, fine. You caught us. That "In and Of the City" Financial Aid flyer wasn't really from the NYU financial aid office. Students Creating Radical Change, a student activist group on campus made it. However, EVERYTHING ON THE FLYER WAS TRUE!! We didn't lie once! The quote from President John Sexton is from a University Senate meeting (a guest wrote it down, word for word, since she, like many of the students who received the flyer today, was appalled by its implications) and the rhetoric in the text is borrowed from the university website. It's also true that NYU is one of the worst private universities at meeting student need.

As the economic crisis takes its toll on student their families, the administration points to its tiny endowment and says "Sorry, we can't help you," while simultaneously embarking on risky, capital-intensive projects in New York and abroad. Our endowment isn't small enough to stop the school from giving $1 million to Washington Square Park renovations, or to stop President Sexton from accepting a $1.3 million/yr pay package. All this while they deny smart students the aid they need to stay in school

We made up the flyer to encourage discussion about NYU's treatment of its students, and to encourage students to question their university's priorities. We want to trust that the administration and trustees, the folks who make all the big decisions. We want to believe that they are acting with our best interests at heart, and that they share our values and priorities. But NYU's neglect of students' financial needs (and how that effects the quality of the student body and the university as an institution) proves that we just don't see eye to eye. Students and trustees/administrators are at NYU for very different reasons, and want very different things from it. Until we reclaim control of OUR university, we will continue to attend a university that values prestige and expansion over the needs of its students. (NYU has a student movement called Take Back NYU! - which SCRC supports but does not represent - that demands budget and endowment disclosure, and that a student be placed on the Board of Trustees. TBNYU!'s demands are an important step towards a student-focused University)

Oh, one other thing: we have nothing against CUNY. We just thought a 'go to CUNY' plan would make a neat flier. In fact, CUNY is facing its own financial problems these days - check out http://www.cunysocialforum.com/ for info on the student resistance to budget cuts and tuition hikes in the state higher-ed system.