WHAT IS NYU ABU DHABI?
In 2007, President Sexton’s administration announced plans for the construction of NYU Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The campus is financed entirely by the UAE government and in return, NYU has lent its name to the campus. Unlike other overseas NYU sites, NYU Abu Dhabi is not merely a study-abroad program but instead a fully-functioning liberal arts institution that issues NYU degrees. In other words, students who attend NYU Abu Dhabi will receive the exact same NYU degree as those who graduate from its Washington Square campus — a first for a major research university.
WHAT IS NYU’S RELATIONSHIP TO NYU ABU DHABI?
NYU is in a business relationship with the UAE. NYU owns its own name as intellectual property. NYU’s name carries a value that is dependent upon NYU’s reputation as a democratic institution dedicated to ethical and intellectual engagement with the world. NYU is lending or franchising its name to the UAE for use on the Abu Dhabi campus. In return, the UAE is financing NYU Abu Dhabi and some operations on NYU’s Washington Square campus. The UAE is paying for the NYU name because NYU has a global reputation for excellence.
IF THE UAE WILL BUILD AND RUN THE CAMPUS, WHAT DO THE LABOR CONDITIONS THERE HAVE TO DO WITH NYU?
NYU is a brand whose value depends on the strength of its name and reputation. The value of the NYU name is diminished when labor abuses occur at places that carry its name. Construction of NYU Abu Dhabi began in 2010, and violations have been documented from Human Rights Watch, Gulf Labor and other investigators. For more articles on NYU Abu Dhabi and migrant labor concerns, please visit our press page.
NYU HIRED MOTT MACDONALD AS THE INDEPENDENT MONITOR. ISN’T THAT ENOUGH?
No. NYU and TAMKEEN, a government entity in Abu Dhabi, did appoint the firm Mott MacDonald as the NYUAD project’s independent monitor in 2010. However, Mott MacDonald has ties to Saadiyat Island. In 2006, the firm was appointed to oversee the development of Saadiyat Island’s entire power and water distribution systems. This relationship is a clear conflict of interest and is resulting in compliance reports from NYU that are not comprehensive. While violations are being documented from organizations like Human Rights Watch, NYU’s name is being tarnished for letting instances of exploitation go unnoticed.
The Coalition for Fair Labor at NYU believes that only an external, truly independent, third party monitor can effectively ensure that fair labor practices are being upheld and protect NYU’s valuable name.
IS NYU A MEMBER OF THE WORKERS RIGHTS CONSORTIUM (WRC)?
Yes, NYU is a part of the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC) and has formally adopted the WRC Code of Conduct, which governs the conditions in factories that manufacture NYU apparel and logo-bearing merchandise. NYU has control over how its name is used and the WRC code is proof. While NYU doesn’t own the factories that produce its merchandise, it does have a say in what the working conditions in those factories are like. In fact, NYU has a legal guarantee of good working conditions in those factories through the WRC Code. In this way, the WRC Code protects both factory workers and NYU’s name. The Coalition believes that NYU’s membership with WRC is a model that all NYU campuses, including NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai, should follow to ensure fair labor practices.
DO WE THINK NYU ABU DHABI AND OTHER GLOBAL SITES OF INSTRUCTION ARE BAD AND SHOULD BE STOPPED?
No. The Coalition believes that there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about building branch campuses on non-U.S. sites. The right way is to guarantee specific, legally enforceable protections for the people who build and operate the sites and in doing so protect NYU’s valuable name.