The faculty of the Department of Music wishes to register its opposition to the proposed NYU 2031 plan for expansion on the superblocks and Houston Street.
We are concerned, firstly, that the plan will have a negative effect on the academic mission of the university. Prolonged construction in the area threatens to impede efforts to recruit and retain the finest faculty, and to disrupt the living and work environments of countless students and faculty. We foresee that the project's very large cost may be paid for by some combination of higher tuition rates, a larger and more dangerously debt-burdened student body, lower teacher-student ratios, fewer tenure-eligible faculty, reductions in real faculty salaries over time, and smaller benefits. These changes, too, would threaten the university's ability to compete effectively with our peer institutions in efforts to recruit the best faculty and students. We are unconvinced that the university has either clearly stated the challenges that this extended project is designed to overcome or demonstrated that the proposed project is the most feasible way to overcome those challenges. Without such statements, we feel that a twenty-year construction project is a high price to pay.
Further, we are concerned that the execution of the 2031 plan will result in severe degradation of the environment immediately adjacent to the superblocks, health risks to the tenants of the surrounding buildings, and so fundamental a transformation of the neighborhood known as Greenwich Village as to cause an irreparable rift with our community neighbors.
Finally, as musicians and scholars of music and sound, we are particularly concerned about the adverse effects that construction noise would likely have on the health of residents in the superblock, both NYU personnel and those not affiliated with the university. According to the World Health Organization, prolonged and daily exposure to unwanted noise at the levels the plan predicts is known to cause significantly increased risk of hypertension and ischemic heart disease, and to disrupt the sleep patterns of both children and adults in ways that negatively affect cognitive performance, even when the exposure to noise occurred in daylight hours. The World Health Organization further reports that children who are chronically exposed to loud noise show impairments in attention, memory, problem-solving and the ability to learn to read. While we note that the university's plan includes a commitment to several noise-mitigation practices (including the installation of special windows and air-conditioner covers), we are skeptical about the efficacy of these noise abatement measures, and we urge the university to improve noise abatement procedures at any and all construction sites.
As members of the NYU community, we are eager to help the university maintain its public commitment to research, discovery, creativity and vigorous intellectual exchange. In fact, it is precisely our strong belief in NYU's mission that has led us to voice our concerns about the plan in question.