In a previous life I taught at a private high school back in America. One day I got an e-mail asking me to make a “voluntary” contribution to the school’s endowment fund. I knew right away I’d made a bad decision ever stepping foot in that place. (Your decision to give or not give was, of course, recorded every year and openly available to, say, the people who would decide if you would be getting an annual raise, let alone be re-hired.)
A mediocre wannabe top-tier private high school is one thing, so imagine my surprise that a relatively prestigious institution like NYU does pretty much the same thing.
The logic is kind of beautiful, really — our crushing tuition is so incredibly high (over 60K/year) but instead of taking steps to alleviate that, overpaid deans are going to fleece lower paid teachers and support staff.
What the deans don’t seem to understand is that there’s nothing “voluntary” about asking your workers for donations. Effectively you’re pressuring them into taking annual voluntary pay cuts.
We really are living in a New Gilded Age.