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Scandals and Lack of Ethics Plague NYU

What happened at New York University?

NYU was once a leader on human rights. In 2005, the University Senate banned the sale of Coca-Cola beverages on campus, citing allegations of Coke’s complicity in widespread labor and human rights abuses in Colombia. These abuses included the torture and murder of union leaders and members of their families who organized against the company’s brutal labor policies. NYU joined dozens of other colleges and universities in kicking Coke off their campuses.

Barry Diller

Barry Diller

Four years later, NYU turned away from their commitment to human rights and invited Coca-Cola back on campus. Jeff Olshansky, co-chair of NYU Law Students for Economic Justice at the time said, "NYU made a promise to these Colombian workers and to human rights and they broke that promise."

The decision to bring back Coca-Cola caught many by surprise. Coke had done nothing to change its ways in Latin America, so why would NYU turn its back on Colombian workers? Could it have something to do with NYU Trustee Barry Diller? Diller sits on both the NYU Board of Trustees and on the Board of The Coca-Cola Company. He’s also Chair of lAC/Interactive Corp. He purchased $20 million of Coca-Cola stock just weeks after NYU surprisingly reversed its ban on "Killer Coke." Coincidence? Hardly!

When he bought more Coca-Cola stock between 2010 and 2012, Diller was fined $480,000, according to The Wall Street Journal, "for violating merger reporting rules … " As of November 15, 2013, Diller owns 4,000,000 shares of Coke valued at $160,880,000. It’s laughable that Coca-Cola calls Diller an "independent director."

Diller’s Maserati, $1 Million Office Carpet and $469 Million Pay Grab

In 2010, CNET News reported that as Diller stepped down as CEO ofI AC/lnteractive while remaining as board chair, some lAC employees were blogging about their discontent over his obscene expenditures and abuse of company money that included his $1 million office carpeting, his spending thousands of dollars ofIAC money on personal travel daily and his company car being upgraded from a Mercedes to a Maserati.

As early as 2006, in a New York Times editorial, "America’s Laziest Man?" Nicholas Kristoff described how Diller was plundering IAC/ Interactive. Diller owned 2% of IAC at the time but controlled 56% of its voting stock. The board and compensation committee he controlled authorized paying him $469 million in 2005, by all accounts a voracious money grab and not in the interest of IAC/ Interactive shareholders. "Let’s hope that that Mr. Diller will .. .learn the concept of shame," Mr. Kristoff said.

Unfortunately, trustee Barry Diller, like other selfish, selfabsorbed honchos at NYU doesn’t understand the concepts of greed and shame.

NYU Trustees: Greed & Shady Dealings

The unethical actions of NYU and Barry Diller’s support of Coca-Cola shouldn’t surprise anyone in light of revelations of recent scandals besmirching the university that involve President John Sexton, top administrators and the Board of Trustees.

Pam Martens pointed out in Wall Street on Parade (6/23/13) that the scandal at NYU whereby tens of millions of dollars are funneled into the bank accounts of Sexton’s friends and the Board of Trustees has the same cast of characters involved in the "NYSE- Grasso- Gate" big money scandal that rocked the New York Stock Exchange in 2003.

The cast is led by three prominent members of NYU’s Board of Trustees: Martin Lipton, Chair; and Vice Chairs Kenneth Langone and Laurence Fink. At that time, Langone was sued for "breach of his fiduciary duty" by then Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

While the Rich Play — NYU Students Pay

Martens, in her story, flashes forward to NYU in 2013, a "nonprofit" subsidized by the taxpayer, now accused of "financing obscene perks for its president, John Sexton," including a "luxurious Fire Island beach house … courtesy of NYU," and his cronies.

"The board of trustees has raised [Sexton’s] salary to nearly $1.5 million, with a $2.5 million ‘length of service’ bonus to come in 2015, and has guaranteed him retirement benefits of $800,000 a year," according to The New York Times (6/17/13). "The university also provides him an apartment by Washington Square."

Martens reports that, according to a finance executive at NYU, the university has made 168 loans to faculty and administrators totaling at least $72 million. Such goings on led Professor David Rubin to raise this question, " … how many parents are happy paying top tuition dollars that they know will go to line the pockets of Team Sexton?" One mother commented to The New York Times:

"It is outrageous that NYU is giving these administrators forgivable loans for vacation homes. How can they live in luxury on the backs of their students and the parents that sacrifice for them?"

Caught: Citibank and Jack Lew Prosper While Miring Students In Debt

According to Gary Tomei in West View News (6/13), Jack Lew, NYU’s former Executive VP of Operations from 2001- 2006 and now President Obama’s treasury secretary, received a yearly salary of $840,339 from NYU and a $100,000 employment signing bonus. It appears that he was given very favorable mortgage loans of $1.5 million and $500,000. The latter loan was forgiven. But there is a whole lot more to this story.

Lew walked away with $685,000 in "severance pay" to take a more profitable job at Citigroup. According to NYU Local, " … the university made Citigroup a ‘preferred lender’ which would lead students to believe the bank offered the lowest rate. But Citi didn’t, in fact, offer the lowest rates and the university was later to have pushed Citigroup loans in exchange for cash and other incentives. The loans were deemed deceptive and at times illegal by the Attorney General and NYU paid out $1.4 million to students; Citigroup paid $2 million."

Tomei echoed the concerns of many, asking, "When large numbers of students are struggling with high tuition and an inordinate amount of debt, why is the university paying its administrators huge sums of money and also advancing them huge loans which in some cases are not repaid because they are forgiven by the university? According to reports, seven loans of more than $1 million each were made to the school’s top administrators, including $5.73 million to Law School Dean Richard Revesz. This is in addition to his $1.04 million salary."

Under the unscrupulous leadership of Sexton, Lipton, Langone and Fink, New York University has become a playground for the super- rich at the expense of students, staff, adjuncts and faculty.

‘The unethical actions of NYU and Barry Diller’s support of Coca-Cola shouldn’t surprise anyone in light of revelations of recent scandals besmirching the university that involve President John Sexton, top administrators and the Board of Trustees.’ Nick Pinto reported in the Village Voice (2/20-26/13), " … NYU has a startlingly high tuition and extremely scarce financial aid … Newsweek called NYU the fourth least-affordable school in the country … generates a staggering amount of student debt … graduates owe 40 percent more than the national average." So far, five schools at NYU have voted no-confidence in Sexton, who has agreed to retire in 2016 when his ridiculously repulsive pension is vested. Many believe he should leave now!

NYU could begin to clean up its act and improve its image by removing Coca-Cola, Barry Diller and some other members of its Board of Trustees.

New York Coca-Cola Plants: ‘Cesspools of Racial Discrimination’

Since 2009, after NYU brought Coca-Cola back on campus, numerous books, reports, documentary films and lawsuits have exposed the Company’s widespread labor, human rights and environmental abuses. And right here in NYU’s own backyard, Coca-Cola is facing many lawsuits by black and Latino workers charging racial discrimination.

Unfortunately, Coca-Cola has a long history of racial discrimination, which persists to this day. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968, called for a boycott of Coke. In 2001, Coca-Cola paid $192.5 million, the largest racial discrimination settlement in U.S. history. In 2012, the New York Daily News reported that numerous lawsuits describe Coke’s plants in New York as "cesspools of racial discrimination" where black and Latino workers who speak up against abuse are retaliated against with unfair discipline, suspensions without pay and often fired.

Before Sandra Walker and Yvette Butler were unjustly terminated from their jobs at The Coca-Cola Company-owned bottling plant in New York City, they already had three strikes against them – they are black, they are women, and they dared to speak up against the abuses inflicted upon them. They, like labor leaders in Colombia, need the support of students and faculty at NYU.

Try to understand the pain of being a victim of discrimination and the resulting unfair treatment, nightmares, panic attacks, constant stress and emotional turmoil. Learn more about Coca-Cola’s human rights abuses from Latin America to India to the United States and Yvette’s and Sandra’s stories and that of many other victims of Coke’s abuses at:

Coca-Cola Victim Yvette Butler

Brooklyn, New York resident Yvette Butler, in retaliation for speaking up, was unjustly fired from her job. "As a result, I lost my home and with three children had to move into a city homeless shelter for 13 months. I endured offensive racial comments and harassment on the job, as well as unfair and dangerous work assignments." Yvette still suffers from depression and anxiety from the mistreatment at the hands of supervisors, managers and co-workers.

Coca-Cola Victim Sandra Walker

Queens, New York resident Sandra Walker was suspended, but found innocent of charges that she told a supervisor, "You’re a dead man," after witnesses proved she told the supervisor, You’re a racist." Yet Sandra was never reimbursed for five weeks lost pay. "I complained about recurring abuses. This led to me being interrogated by persons from Coke’s Human Resources Dept. in Atlanta. I was asked such irrational questions as, ‘Sandra, do you have any personal friends who are HIV Positive?’ Then I was terminated."

It’s time for New York University to dump Coke, dump Diller and reaffirm its commitment to human rights and social justice!

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