New York Techs' New Advertisements Spark Student Controversy on Funding
By Natalia Chancafe and Roy Rodriguez
Almost all students that attend the NY Tech Manhattan campus use the subway stations to commute to school. This is an everyday transportation tool that has become a regular routine for most students. With that being said, it is very easy for us to notice small changes in our routine.
As of Fall 2022, one thing that stood out to several students in their commute was the new NY Tech advertisements. The new ads include NY Tech’s name plastered around subway stations, including the elevators, staircases, and turnstiles once you exit the stations. Quotes such as “A Place For You” and “Do More, Learn More” have been spotted at Columbus Circle station, a very populated area near campus.
These advertisements have surprised students who are questioning NY Techs' funding and future plans with resources. It has also sparked a conversation among students who are experiencing their department closing or feel a lack of communication between the student body and NY Tech. Several students have expressed feeling betrayed and confused after these advertisements have been placed everywhere they look.
Students also wonder why NY Tech has money for advertisements and none for departments that could be invested in, such as dying departments like Communication Arts and Criminal Justice. This raised important questions: Where is NY Tech funding really going? Why are we told there is no money for our departments? And what is going to happen to the resources the school has spent money on for us?
To get to the bottom of this and allow students to speak, we decided to anonymously survey several students on the ideas of funding, advertising, and other issues that have impacted departments through an online form. Comm Arts students in particular had a lot to say.
The first question we asked was “Where have you seen the school's advertising and how has it changed your perception of the school's priorities?” One Comm Arts student stated, "It was weird cause I heard they don’t accept as many people as they did before and they don’t offer as many classes as before, so I was like - then why are you advertising the school?!”
The form also asked students to evaluate New York Techs' funding on self-promotion rather than funding the CA department for future students who are interested in the major. Students were asked, “How does that make you feel in regard to the lack of opportunity granted to current and prospective students?” Some students kept their answers short and simple, with responses like “My tuition dollars are going to waste for ads rather than the major I paid for”.
“It blocks away the opportunity for a lot of students to take a dabble into these classes. This year's freshman class is very creative and it makes me sad that they can’t take these classes that used to be offered” stated Christian Castillo, a current senior in the Comm Arts department who is concerned for the undergraduates who wouldn’t be able to take the courses.
Similarly, an anonymous student said, “They’re selling false advertising to future students. And who knows what they will do next, future students might suffer the same fate we are currently suffering, just for school funding".
Unfortunately, we found out that the advertising budget cannot be allocated towards funding the Communication Arts Department because it wasn’t a funding issue that caused the administration to shut down the department. The Head of the Budgeting Committee, Barbara Holahan, referred to a faculty advisory meeting that reviewed Communication Arts for “academic quality, enrollment, and STEM-mission-alignment” but the standards weren't met.
Even then, Holahan reported that the university has an annual budget for “advertising purchases...to support the recruitment of new students, for the ads around Columbus Circle'', hence moving the budget from one place to another was not an option because there is a set budget.
Prior to our knowledge of how the budgeting committee handles advertising, we ended the survey with the question “Should NYIT continue to allocate money to advertising when majors that prospective students would be interested in are being removed? If not, what should be funded?”
One student suggested, “I believe NYIT should really start funding themselves heavily in the student life. Give us more majors, give us more campus activists, and provide more clubs.”
Another student said “In a way, the advertising wouldn’t be beneficial to future students in the long run, mainly because the department that is shown in the ad might be closed in the future. Who knows, future students [might] face the same fate as comm art students".
Based on the survey we found that most students are worried about future NY Tech students who may struggle. They fail to realize that besides future students, there are still prospective graduates who are struggling through these confusing times. The Comm Arts juniors and seniors who are luckily able to graduate through Professors willing to stay the semesters needed should be thought about.
We spoke with Professor James Fauvell to gather his perspective. "Communication Arts has a long history, built on communications… [creation] of 3D imaging systems, sold equipment and expertise to Lucas Films and Dream Works...180 full-time students during Covid, the money and interest were there... 100s of Alum working in Broadcasting". The faculty pushes hard to allow current students to graduate so that they can also be a part of the 100s of Alum working in broadcasting.
Despite the lending hand, students still have questions. Students in the 10th-floor Communication Arts department have asked what's going to happen to the equipment in the department. Will the equipment be sold? Are there other applications for the equipment? “Should the equipment be utilized in different departments/clubs and how should it be handled? If not, what would you suggest?” we asked.
Several students shared their ideas. “I think comm arts students should be given the equipment since we spent most of our academic years learning how to use them.” Another student added that the equipment "should still be used by the school", and that "students should be able and allowed to use them for their own projects or in regards to other activities and classes”. Other students had some recommendations. “[The equipment] should be utilized a lot more, it can advertise the school better than just subway flyers.”
Whether students feel that the equipment should either be passed on to them, continue to be utilized for school activities, or advertise the school, we can't overlook the faculty's opinions especially since they are at the forefront.
James Fauvell, the Associate Professor of the Communication Arts Department, stated “The equipment could still be used to promote the school, [including] faculty and student interviews…education in communication skills, and presentation skills”. In addition to promotion, the department “used to stream all the SGA big meetings live on the campus sites…if they bring sports back, we streamed the baseball games and lacrosse games, so I think ultimately whether the department remains or not..let the SGA use it, let the faculty use it”, Fauvell added.
Allowing this would build on student life and fill the needs of many on the Manhattan campus, for example…SPORTS! Ultimately, the decision is still up to the administration. If we are to continue using the equipment then it should be left to the faculty and staff, including the head of the communication arts department, Donald Fizzinoglia, and engineer, Herbert Savrann so they can properly manage and care for the equipment while in use at the campus. Staff can also provide guidance to students who have no prior experience.
Unfortunately, “the equipment is at the end of its life”, said Executive Vice President and Provost Jerry Balentine. It's the intention of Balentine that “the equipment can be used by student life and be rented out for a day”. And now for the final question: What will happen to the 10th floor?
NY Tech will continue to “reinvent itself”, Barbara Holahan stated in an e-mail interview. “It’s a part of the administration's polytechnic alignment for the university.” "After the remaining students have graduated, spaces on the 10th floor are possibly to be tailored to departments that need more space and to student centers but there are no plans as of now” Jerry Balentine shared in a phone interview.
On a more exciting note, Balentine has told us that “course diversity can always be replenished”. This can include a photography course that was actually a part of Comm Arts and the implementation of other courses. This is a possibility for any student; simply talk to the SGA at 26W of the Manhattan Campus.
Regardless of the opportunities students still have in Communication Arts, it’s understandable that it won’t be the same. As said by James Fauvell “I hoped there would be a little bit more transparency as to why the department closed… I wish more could be told”.
With regard to funding and the operations of the school, the administration is not required to provide information. From a student's standpoint, it did feel like a disservice.
Digital Film and TV Production student, Christian Castillo provided his input on the topic. “It blocks away the opportunity for a lot of students to take a dabble into these classes. This year's freshman class is very creative and it makes me sad that they can’t take these classes that used to be offered”.
Christian Castillo Professor James Fauvell