Page 7 | tuesday, february 7, 2012 | Washington Square news


edited by olivia gonzalez



Miller reconsiders on-campus Chick-fil-A By Ben Miller In the spirit of post-New-Years penitence and self-criticism, I want to return to the subject of a column I wrote last year and eat some crow. I am proud that I was one of many voices that played a part in sparking a debate about whether Chick-fil-A should be a dining option on NYU’s campus. The debate centers on their donations to groups that oppose same-sex marriage and their attempts to cure. homosexuality. Their various methods have been classified in some countries as torture and are heavily discredited by every reputable professional organization of psychiatrists and psychologists in this country as both ineffective and potentially harmful to its subjects. While I decried these donations last year, I fell short of calling for their removal from the campus dining options. In a misguided attempt at moderation on this crucial issue, I waffled, saying only that students needed to be more aware of their choices while eating there. I was wrong. An eatery that do-

nates significant percentages of its profits to the torture of young teens has no place in our community. NYU student Hillary Dworkoski has created a petition on to remove Chick-fil-A from campus, and in doing so she has created a discussion about our university, its values and how it can and should be promoting those values through its selection of corporate partnerships. For me, that discussion leads to the following two questions: How can a university with one of the leading departments of psychology and a fantastic school of social work direct its dollars and its students’ dollars towards an organization that directly counters the aims of both of these departments? How can a university committed to tolerance and diversity direct its dollars and its students’ dollars towards an organization that directly counters that philosophy? For me at least, the answers to those questions point in only one direction. I’m aware of the counterargument: Every corporation has questionable

practices if you dig back far enough, and NYU should allow its students to make their own choices about where they want to spend their money. But giving tens of millions to organizations classified as hate groups seems not to require much digging back, and NYU’s subsidy of meal plans for students on financial aid means that it is not only our money that we choose to spend but also NYU’s money that then goes back to those groups. It makes me sick to think that a single dollar traced from my tuition payments was donated to a group that used it for torture. I challenge anyone who believes in LGBTQ equality to think through this carefully and honestly and not come to the same conclusion. For that reason, NYU should stop subsidizing hate and remove Chickfil-A from the dining hall at the end of their current contract. Ben Miller is a columnist. His column, “The Observationalist,” appears once a week. Email him at


NYC’s aloof attitudes create cold social culture By Marc Simon Disneyland brought out the wannabe bully in me. As a toddler in the park, my hypothetical targets weren’t the fat kids or the pansies who’d bolt on cold feet from the line for the Dumbo ride — they were the criers. Criers at Disneyland are disrespectful, and tons of people I pass every day around NYU and NYC are too. They are disrespectful of their surroundings by closing themselves off to what these places have to offer. Being closed-off, I submit, is not the optimal strategy for living in such a rich environment. The disrespect I’m talking about concerns the masses of New York City pedestrians, the overwhelming majority of whom sport an identical look, which I can only describe as a cool, urban semi-scowl. Eye contact is paltry and casual smiles are close to nonexistent. I don’t let this faze me. I get it; you run the risk of extreme exhaustion if you aren’t able to sometimes seal yourself off from the constant bombardment of stimuli on this island.



My childhood targets at Disneyland were the little brats who bawled if their parents got them blue cotton candy when they clearly specified they wanted pink; the punky munchkins throwing tantrums because Goofy wasn’t around for an autograph and Mickey and Minnie’s weren’t going to cut it. I’d envision a more violent me smacking them silly. I can’t help but sense that the comparable temperament of New York City’s residents is a symptom of a bigger problem: a general disrespect for what this city is all about. The bigger problem is that people tend to be tremendously closed-off. New York City is a grimy place, yet the tacit contract seems to be that this is what you endure for being immersed in a place so rich with exceptional people of all ethnicities, passions and walks of life. That’s why I consciously push myself to start up conversations in Washington Square Park, introduce myself to strangers in dining hall lines and smile at passersby on the sidewalk. Too many people stare or absorb themselves in their technologies —

a missed opportunity. I don’t think the urban scowl is merely a way to ward off excess stimuli. It’s also an aesthetic. Yeah, it looks hip, and yeah, I’m sure I look radically un-hip deploying my dorky smile. But setting yourself up to build meaningful relationships with extraordinary people requires a warm attitude, which requires practice lest it eventually slide. It requires an effort. You can admire the cool facades around you and adopt a similar apathy, or you can make the more practical choice. At his funeral, you wouldn’t tell jokes about Grandpa’s funny jowls or his habit of forcing flatulence — wrong place, wrong time. Likewise, you should be happy while indulging in Disneyland, popularly deemed the happiest place on earth. You shouldn’t cry. And furthermore, being friendly in NYC is not just practical, intelligent and obvious, but also respectful of the raucous luxury that is this city. Marc Simon is a contributing columnist. Email him at

Bedbug response worrisome

NYU is not sleeping tight tonight. Yet another outbreak of bedbugs has hit the NYU community, alarming inhabitants of the Broome Street residence hall. The story itself is enough to make your skin crawl, but the real source of the residents’ inquietude is the university’s unprofessional reaction to the incident. The bedbug infestation was met with an embarrassingly delayed response on behalf of the NYU administration, potentially posing sanitation concerns for those living in the residence hall. The flyers distributed by an anonymous student in Broome show NYU’s negligence in dealing with the problem. Even more worrisome is the administration’s choice to refrain from informing its residents of the alleged infestation. Any warning issued to the residents was done so informally, through student-distributed flyers and a Broome resident’s blog. NYU should show more alacrity in responding positively to situations that affect its residents. The calls for help on behalf of the residential community should have sufficed to inspire a more robust response. Until NYU quells the issue, this might mean a few uneasy nights for Broome residents. Email the WSN Editorial Board at Editorial Board: Olivia Gonzalez (Chair), Atticus Brigham (Co-Chair), Emily Franklin, Nicolette Harris, Matt Kao, Ben Miller and Peter Murphy.

Send mail to: 838 Broadway, fifth floor, New York, NY 10003 or email: WSN welcomes letters to the editor, opinion pieces and articles relevant to the NYU community, or in response to articles. Letters should be less than 150 words. All submissions must be typed or emailed and must include the author’s name, address and phone number. Members of the NYU community must include a year and school or

job title. WSN does not print unsigned letters or editorials. WSN reserves the right to reject any submission and edit accepted submissions in any and all ways. With the exception of the staff editorial, opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.


February 7, 2012

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