Students at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts want some of their tuition back because they say virtual classes aren’t what they paid for – but instead of tackling the situation, the school dean sent them a video of herself dancing to REM’s “Losing My Religion.”
Following several communications between students and school administration, Dean Allyson Green earlier this week attached her dance video to an email to students in which she explained that she does not have the power to refund tuition fees and that it is “difficult” for the school to return students their money right now.
The video is now making the rounds on social media after NYU Tisch senior Michael Price, 21, shared it on Twitter.
“It wasn’t an accident, it was his way of trying to reach the student body,” Price told NBC News. He said his first reaction was that the video was ridiculous and “deaf”.
One-year tuition at Tisch costs around $58,552 (that’s probably a lot more when you consider other fees) and most students at the private, prestigious art school need practical training. The school has informed students that it will not refund tuition fees even if they are forced to switch to remote learning due to the spread of COVID-19.
“I am personally upset that we are being denied access to this equipment and facilities and still being charged the same amount for what is recognized by the university as a substandard education,” he said. said Price.
Green argued in his email that remote learning was unexpected for everyone and was actually costing the university “millions more.” She also said the school still pays for the facilities and maintains them even if the students cannot use them.
NBC New York received the following statement from Green:
“The center of my career as a performer, choreographer and dance teacher, and my most authentic mode of expression, has always been dance. In the video, I shared the song with which I welcomed freshmen at the Tisch School of the Arts for the past eight years. This is a piece that – as I explained in the attached email – is about frustration and disappointment, and who helped me through the loss of 30 friends to AIDS – another difficult time for artists.
What I wanted to demonstrate was my certainty that even with the unprecedented difficulties of social distancing and distance education, it is still possible for the Tisch community to make art together, and that all artists in our school will find ways to stay close connected even when circumstances challenge us. I regret if my e-mail left the reasons for my dance misunderstood – although I note that I also received many positive thanks – but its intention was surely neither frivolous nor disrespectful.”
The students started an online petition to demand partial tuition reimbursement which now has over 2,200 signatures and the situation has caught the attention of some famous alumni.
“As a former student, I’m ashamed to say this is my Alma Mater. Stop buying real estate and start treating your students and their parents with respect and empathy,” said actress Rachel Bloom in a Tweet on Thursday as she called the school to reimburse students.
“Saturday Night Live” writer and former Tisch student Anna Drezen also spoke about the school’s tuition: