NYU students are returning this fall to find a significant change in the layout of the atrium of Bobst Library, where several people have jumped to their deaths since 2003. Administrators have now added gold screens to completely enclose the atrium's jump points; the screens, designed by Joel Sanders Architect, resemble digital pixels that you'd think wired web-savvy millennials would appreciate. But so far students' reactions have been decidedly mixed.
"I'm going to miss climbing to the top of Bobst Library and hanging my head over the railings, staring at the patterned flooring, knowing that there can be an end whenever I please." says Colin Marchon, a sophomore Film and Television major. And sophomore Math major Thayer Mukherjee tells us, "My biggest problem with the barriers is that they are too much. The main floor in Bobst is already covered in an almost Escher-like tessellation of L's that when looked at from the highest floors can be dizzying. These barriers just turn Bobst into what everyone studying for their finals is trying to avoid, a headache."
Another student, Aaron Marks, was in the library on the day that a fellow student jumped to his death in February, and says, "I'm aware of the effect that these kinds of tragedies have on the university community. At the same time, tuition is higher than ever, and you have to wonder if NYU is justified in spending all of this money on a library redesign. Unfortunately, a suicide-proof library doesn't mean a community without suicide. Students will still find ways to hurt themselves; NYU would be better to spend the money addressing the issues which underlie tragedies like suicide than draping the library in what seems to be largely unpopular pixelated gold plates."
To be sure, there are some "alt" nonconformist NYU kids who say they like the suicide screens. Priya Mulgaonkar, an Environmental Studies Major, says, "The screens are very ominous, but I suppose being pre-cautious is better than having over stressed college students in such close proximity to heights. It is difficult to appreciate the aesthetic beauty of something I know is there to keep people from jumping to their deaths, but if they had to install something, I guess gilded cathedral-like fixtures are not too bad to look at."
Of course, this being college, there are no shortage of cynics. Film and Television major Cole Carter contends that NYU administrators "are trying to make themselves less liable at the expense of making the library more prison-like. I don't think that it will actually prevent anyone from actually killing themselves, I just think it will just prevent people from killing themselves in the library. There are plenty of high places to throw yourself off of in the city. If this one is made inaccessible, people will just find another one."
Reporting by Claire Voon.