April 27, 2004

Classroom sex and other eclectic acts

"N.Y.U. doesn't attract just smart students, it attracts smart, eclectic students," said Mr. Beckman, the university spokesman. "We had a film student who wanted to film a couple performing a live sex act in front of a class. We had students who set up a swimming pool in their dorm room. Now we have this fellow."

Mr. Beckman is being quoted in today's New York Times, and by "this fellow" he means Steve Stanzak, a.k.a. the "Bobst boy", who has been living for eight months in the basement of the Bobst Library at N.Y.U., due to financial problems, and documenting his experiences on LiveJournal and a web site homelessatnyu.com.

I'm also impressed by Stanzak's resourcefulness, but I wonder whether the entire N.Y.U. administration agrees with their spokesman's other definitions-by-example of "smart" and "eclectic". Limiting discussion to the business of setting up a swimming pool in a dorm room, and thinking about issues such as floor loading and water damage in rooms below, I would have guessed that a different S-word would be more appropriate. In my experience, it's rarely a good idea to put large amounts of water in unusual places. I don't think that any students in the dorm where I live have ever turned their room into a swimming pool. However, an army buddy of mine once tried to turn his rusty old van into a sort of traveling love palace by removing the rear seats and installing a second-hand water bed, and that experiment came to a mythically disastrous end.

Maybe they build dorms differently at New York University (which is never called "New York", like Boston University/B.U. an example of an "X University" not known familiarly as "X"). Anyhow, NYU has given Stanzak a free room -- under the swimming pool? -- and invited him to come talk to them about a better financial aid package, so he'll have a chance to find out for himself.

Posted by Mark Liberman at April 27, 2004 11:03 AM