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NYU Students to Protest Trump Adviser on School's Board of Trustees

By Danielle Tcholakian | February 21, 2017 6:03pm
 Students at New York University are taking issue with billionaire Trump advisor John Paulson being on the Board of Trustees.
Students at New York University are taking issue with billionaire Trump advisor John Paulson being on the Board of Trustees.
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DNAinfo/Andrea Swalec

GREENWICH VILLAGE — New York University students will occupy the lobby of Bobst Library Wednesday afternoon to protest having an economic adviser to President Donald Trump on the school's Board of Trustees.

The protest against billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson is being organized by the Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM), whose leadership asserted in a statement that "as a close confidant of President Trump, Paulson's interests are inherently not in line with that of students."

Paulson profited from the 2008 housing crisis after collaborating with Goldman Sachs to short subprime mortgage bonds in 2007, and was named "the biggest winner in Donald Trump's victory" by the Huffington Post after his investments soared the day after Trump's election win.

NYU's Tisch School of the Arts has an auditorium named after him, and he gifted $20 million to the Stern School of Business in 2009 to fund two faculty chair positions.

In the wake of Trump's election, at least one NYU student was detained overnight at JFK Airport due to the executive order restricting travel to the U.S. by people from certain countries with large Muslim populations.

READ MORE: NYU Student Was Detained at JFK Due to Trump Travel Ban, School Says

Students have pushed for NYU President Andrew Hamilton to declare the school a "sanctuary campus," but Hamilton has refused, despite issuing statements in support of the school's immigrant community.

READ MORE: NYU Will Protect Undocumented Immigrant Students, President Says

Advocates of making NYU a sanctuary campus told school news outlet Washington Square News that they believe Hamilton is refusing to do so in an effort to not upset Paulson.

Student activists have long taken issue with the fact that more than half of NYU's trustees come from the finance world while only two, including Hamilton, have education experience.

In 2014, the New York Times' DealBook noted that NYU has "an extraordinarily large board" and that "many" of the approximately 70 trustees are billionaires, "in typical fashion these days at colleges and universities."

At a school that struggles with a reputation of high costs, student activists have taken issue with the school being managed by billionaires, noting in particular that the board's chair, William Berkley, ran a predatory student lending company while on the school's board.

Last year, SLAM launched a push for student representation on the board, which the Student Senators Council recently voted to support.

READ MORE: NYU Students Demand Seat on Board of Trustees

In an interview last year with DNAinfo New York, Hamilton refused to address the student's criticism of Berkley or take a firm position on student representation on the board.

READ MORE: Meet New York University's New President Andrew Hamilton

Wednesday's protest, scheduled to take place at 1 p.m. in the library just south of Washington Square Park, is meant both to oppose Paulson's seat on the Board of Trustees and demand a public meeting with Hamilton to discuss student representation on the board, organizers said.