Administrators at New York University are either craven opponents of human rights or a bunch of lunkheads who don’t understand basic brand management — possibly both.
The large and somewhat prestigious university has severed relations with blind Chinese political dissident Chen Guangcheng, the New York Post reports. The reason? School officials allegedly want to curry favor with China’s oppressive Communist government to assure completion of NYU’s gleaming portal campus in Shanghai.
Chen and his wife and two children have been living in a housing complex for students and faculty at NYU since May 2012 when the U.S. State Department (under Hillary Clinton) negotiated their highly-publicized escape.
Jerome Cohen, a renowned NYU law professor and an authority on China, helped broker the deal.
Since arriving stateside, Chen, 42, has been primarily learning English, meetings with American professors and penning a memoir. At the end of this month, though, the self-taught lawyer and famed activist will have to find someplace other than NYU to continue these activities.
“The big problem is that NYU is very compromised by the fact they are working very closely with the Chinese to establish a university,” one unidentified source told the Post. “Otherwise, they would be much less constrained on issues like freedom of speech.”
NYU professor Andrew Ross noted that Chen has been strangely silent on campus. He hasn’t sat on panel discussions, for example, which is something you might expect from an outspoken, internationally famous political dissident living on the campus of an American university.
Chinese functionaries in charge of permits in Shanghai pressured the move, according to the Post’s sources.
Meanwhile, NYU functionaries say Chen’s on-campus stay was always going to be temporary. They insist that the Shanghai campus is unrelated to the dissident’s expulsion.
“If there were outside pressure, why would we have taken him in the first place when his plight was on every front page in the world?” countered NYU spokesman John Beckman, according to the Post.
Whatever the case, Chen is looking for a new place to crash and has entered discussions with officials at Fordham University School of Law.
When he lived in China, Chen fought authorities on human rights issues, particularly in rural areas. He was an advocate for property rights, women’s rights and the plight of the poor. He also exposed an array of odious family-planning abuses related to China’s one-child policy.
NYU has an endowment worth roughly $2.755 billion, which is roughly comparable to the entire annual gross domestic product of Guam. The Greenwich Village campus has been the collegiate stomping ground of an array of notable people including Alan Greenspan, Martin Scorsese and, of course, Louis Gossett, Jr.
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