New York University cancels course on Ground Zero

Monday, September 23, 2002

NEW YORK -- New York University has canceled a course about rebuilding Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center was attacked by terrorists, because of concern about publicity the class might generate.

The course, called Ground Zero Lab, was canceled after its organizers were asked by David Finney, the dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, to guarantee it would not attract media attention, The New York Times reported Sunday.

The organizers said they could not make the guarantee -- requested by Finney in an e-mail sent Sept. 8 -- in part because a press release about the course had already been issued, the Times said.

The course was to focus on the politics, finance, design and culture involved in redevelopment in lower Manhattan, where the twin towers collapsed after terrorist attacks Sept. 11, 2001.

An NYU spokesman, John Beckman, told the Times that Finney's e-mail was "an inartful expression" of his concern the course would not be academically rigorous, could serve as a platform for someone seeking to influence the debate over redevelopment, and might be hurtful to families of the victims of the attacks.

Beckman said Finney changed his mind several days after sending the e-mail and said he wanted the organizers to move forward with the course.

But the organizers said they thought it was too late to reinstate the class, which had been formally canceled in a letter sent two days before.

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