Students at NYU’s Art School Are Demanding Refunds of Their Tuition. The Dean Just Responded With This Astonishing Homemade Dance Video

The video offers no explanation for why students are not being reimbursed.

Outside NYU's Tisch School of the Arts.
Outside NYU's Tisch School of the Arts.

Last week, the dean of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts emailed students to let them know that the school would not be issuing any tuition refunds, despite the fact that courses are now being conducted online.

Attached to the message was a video of the dean—choreographer, artist, and curator Allyson Green—dancing by herself to REM’s “Losing My Religion.” The video was also published on the official Tisch Vimeo account on Sunday.

“This was not an accident,” Tisch student Michael Price told NBC News. “This was her sort of way of trying to reach out to the student body.”

He described the video, which has over 5,500 likes and 1,400 shares on his Twitter post, as “tone deaf.”

A year’s tuition for full-time Tisch students is $60,994 for commuters and $77,236 for students living in NYU housing, according to the university’s website.

Tisch is NYU’s performing, cinematic, and media-arts school, and offers courses in photography as well as filmmaking, dance, performance studies, acting, and other disciplines. (The university’s studio art program is run out of the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.)

As of press time, Green had not responded to inquires from Artnet News.

An online petition calling for a partial tuition refund attracted nearly 2,500 signatures by Friday afternoon.

Other art students across the country have also wondered how their studies would continue now that universities are closed indefinitely. Students at the Yale School of Art in New Haven, Connecticut, the School of Visual Arts in New York, and the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore have all started similar petitions.

The Savannah College of Art and Design has announced that its Hong Kong location will not reopen, a decision that has also launched a petition, even as students there also demand partial refunds

“All of us here at NYU are handling the pandemic differently,” one person wrote on the NYU Local blog in an open letter to the dean. “Some of us are becoming increasingly angry at the establishment for their failure to adequately address the problems we’re facing.”

The writer added: “How could you possibly think this would do anything but piss everyone off?”

UPDATE: Green sent the following statement to Artnet News:

The focus of my career as a performer, choreographer, and dance educator, and my most authentic mode of expression, has always been dance. 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 in the accompanying email—speaks to frustration and disappointment, and that helped see me through the loss of 30 friends to AIDS, another difficult period for artists.

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.


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