In the vibrant heart of Shanghai, where the bustling streets merge with the gleaming skyline, NYU Shanghai stands as a testament to global education. Underneath the worldly surface, though, is a confusing matter that has sparked impassioned discussions among student-athletes and the larger campus community.

Fairness, access, and equity have been fiercely debated as a result of the stark differences in sports facilities between NYU Shanghai and its counterpart in Abu Dhabi. Student-athletes at NYU Shanghai encounter an unexpected obstacle in their pursuit of their sporting passions.

They are compelled to pay for access to the basketball courts on campus, which is a baffling provision. Many have questioned the justification for such an arrangement in light of this conduct. With the heavy load of tuition costs already on their backs, this additional cost has raised questions and caused anxiety among students.

Additionally, the restrictions go beyond basketball courts. A major deficiency is the lack of dedicated football courts, swimming pools, and running tracks for student-athletes to perfect their abilities.

Those seeking to go above and beyond, to invest extra hours refining their craft, must resort to renting facilities outside the school. The growing discontent among student-athletes is further made worse by this added financial strain.

The Men’s Soccer team is where the palpable unhappiness is most pronounced. Their once-weekly practice schedule, mandated by the university, has given rise to controversy.

The team’s captain, Jose Luis Garcia (NYUSH ’25), asks, “They set up a once-weekly practice for only 1.5 hours and expect us to excel?” Dhruv Vaishnav (NYUSH ’23), who emphasizes the necessity for dependable transportation, echoes the sentiment: “We are playing for the university, so they should arrange pick-up and drop-off services from the dorms to the field.”

Another devoted soccer player, Yash Rajeev (NYUSH ’25), calls for a permanent field that is accessible all the time, similar to the facilities at the university in Abu Dhabi.

“Once-a-week practice is not enough for the team,” he asserts, highlighting the necessity of additional training time on a suitable field.

Student-athlete Rao Daud (NYUSH ’25) expresses his dissatisfaction with the university’s choice to impose fees for utilizing the basketball and volleyball facilities, which the university owns.

He complains that “NYU seems to capitalize on everything,” highlighting how unfair the practice is.

Nicole Wu, from the Athletics department at NYU Shanghai, sheds light on the rationale behind the fees.

“The operating cost of the new facilities exceeds any of the fees collected,” she explained. “Our old Century Ave fitness center was 1/4 the size of our new fitness center. We went from 300sqm to 3000sqm of physical space.

“Most of the equipment is new, and it costs a lot for facilities maintenance. We need a dedicated operating/cleaning team to maintain the facilities and transition between all the sports. The locker rooms also need to be disinfected appropriately.”

As for the lack of a dedicated football field, Nicole said, “When the Government granted this area to NYU Shanghai as our New Bund Campus several years ago, no soccer fields were included in the plan.”

Responding to concerns about the frequency of soccer team practice, Nicole expressed support for the students’ dedication.

“I am glad to see student-athletes showing higher dedication, it means that our program is growing gradually. I am also considering increasing the training frequency for all sports teams, but there are several factors that need to be considered in advance.”

Regarding the request for an 11-a-side field, Nicole reveals the challenges faced by the university.

“The current training facility is the only available place we could find when we moved here last semester. Other nearby facilities such as Oriental Sports Center are already fully booked. We have been looking for other alternative resources nearby, and hope we are able to relocate our soccer training to another facility that better matches our needs soon.”

As for providing shuttle services for student-athletes, Nicole noted the constraints.

“A weekly shuttle bus arrangement is beyond our capability based on current resources.”

At NYU Abu Dhabi, in stark contrast, a different story emerges. The university has a large sports complex with football fields, basketball courts, running tracks, and even swimming pools that are also all open to non-student athletes.

NYUSH study away student-athlete at Abu Dhabi, Sam Kominowski (NYUSH ’25) is effusive in his praise: “We have a soccer field, three basketball courts, and a half-track 200 meters. We don’t have to pay a penny to play; this sports facility is totally free, and anyone can partake, even if they are not competitive athletes.”

Why the significant differences inside the same university system, is the issue that NYU Shanghai students are asking themselves.

Jamal Khan (NYUSH ’26), argues, “We pay the same amount of money as they do, so we should be facilitated the same as they are?”

Authorities are asked to heed the cries of NYU Shanghai student-athletes for parity as their voices become more audible. Financial constraints shouldn’t get in the way of pursuing excellence.

The student body hopes that those in positions of authority will pay attention to their concerns and work to build a sports complex that is not only open to everyone but also reflects the values of equity that the university upholds.

Every student should be given the opportunity to pursue their academic goals and athletic skills.