As the 2012-13 academic year gets under way, more than
40,000 students from all 50 states and 130 foreign countries are attending the
graduate and undergraduate schools of New York University. Some of these young scholars will undoubtedly
ride to school in upscale cars or limos: a year at NYU with room and board
costs almost $70,000, a handsome sum that contributes handsomely to the
university’s $2.25 billion in annual revenue.
Computer printouts in hand, some of the newcomers will follow NYU’s
online directions and drive down Fifth Avenue to the university’s lair in a formerly
scenic area of Greenwich Village, one of Manhattan’s oldest and most historic
neighborhoods. “Fifth Avenue ends at the Washington Square campus,” NYU’s
directions helpfully conclude.
A few students may note that Fifth Avenue does not, in
fact, terminate at the NYU campus, but at Washington Square, a public
park. However, those who fail to notice
this minor detail can be forgiven for assuming that Washington Square belongs
to NYU. After years of watching this
celebrated park and nearby blocks treated like Monopoly properties by a private
corporation cloaked in scholarly robes, more than a few residents of Greenwich
Village also mistakenly believe that Washington Square belongs to NYU. And if the university’s land grab continues, some day it might.