Hundreds of students at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts demanded a partial tuition refund since spring classes were moved online amid the coronavirus pandemic –and their dean responded with a bizarre video of herself dancing to REM’s “Losing my Religion.’’
As of Friday evening, a Change.org petition started by NYU students has garnered more than 2,600 signatures from people seeking the tuition relief.
Students say online classes and remote learning via video conferencing app’s like Zoom are not worth the school’s $58,000-a-year tuition.
The petition is pushing for the NYU Board of Trustees “to refund a portion of our Spring 2020 tuition paid for the resources, universally deemed crucial to arts education, lost in the recent switch to remote teaching.”
The school’s student body, particularly the drama students, have been going “back and forth” with NYU administrators over tuition since their classes were moved to remote learning, according to a post on NYU’s independent student-run blog, NYU Local.
“Aggrieved students argue that remote classes cannot possibly serve as an adequate replacement for classes that necessitate a physical presence in the room (like acting classes, or dance classes, or film projects, or etcetera),” the post reads.
School dean Allyson Green emailed the student body on March 18, saying that they would not be getting a tuition refund, and later sent another email on the matter in which she attached a video showing her dancing and singing to “Losing My Religion” in a living room, students said.
The awkward 2-minute and 16-second clip has since been widely circulated on social media.
“We here at NYU Local would just like to say: what the f–k is this,” the post on the blog read. “We get it. You’re stressed. It’s a stressful time. People are mad, a lot of them at you. But what the f–k are you doing???”
The blog post titled, “An Open Letter to Tisch Dean Allyson Green: Please Stop,” goes on to say that the video is “uncomfortable to watch.”
Green defended her dancing video in a statement to The Post Friday.
“The focus of my career as a performer, choereographer, and dance educator, and my most authentic mode of expression, has always been dance,” Green said. “In the video, I shared the song with which I have welcomed first-year students to the Tisch School of the Arts for the past eight years. It is a piece that — as I explained…speaks to frustration and disappointment, and that helped see me through the loss of 30 friends to AIDS — another difficult period for artists.”
Green continued: “What I meant to demonstrate is my certainty that even with the unprecedented hardships of social distancing and remotely-held classes, it is still possible for the Tisch community to make art together, and that all the artists in our school will find ways to remain closely connected even as circumstances challenge us.
“I regret it if my email left the reasons for my dancing misunderstood — although I will note that I have also received many positive acknowledgments — but its intent was surely neither frivolous or disrespectful,” the dean said.
Meanwhile, Tisch alum actress Rachel Bloom called out the school on Twitter Thursday, pleading for it to “give students refunds now.”
“I am ashamed to say this is my Alma Mater,” Bloom tweeted. “Stop buying up real estate and start treating your students and their parents with respect and empathy.”
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