05/01/04 — Resolve: This young student slept under library

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Resolve: This young student slept under library

There was a great Associated Press story out of New York recently. It had nothing to do with war or politics, terror or turmoil. But it must have touched the hearts of all who read it.

It was about a young man’s determination to get an education at New York University.

Steve Stanzak, 20, works four jobs in addition to attending classes at the university. He also has a $15,000 scholarship and some student loans. But he gets no help from his divorced parents. And NYU is costly for full-time students — $31,000 a year for tuition for full-time students, another $10,980 for a dorm room.

One also has to eat, which isn’t cheap in New York.

When he was unable to come up with a $1,000 housing deposit at the beginning of the academic year, Stanzak chose a unique approach to make ends meet. He slept on four chairs lined up in a sub-basement of Bobst Library.

“I could have slept in the park, but I was afraid I might get kicked out of NYU. And I love this school,” he told The New York Times.

According to The AP, he washed in the library’s bathroom and showered at the apartments or dorm rooms of friends. He carried his laptop and other items in his backpack and a storage locker.

Early on, security guards discovered his “arrangement” and on two occasions told him he couldn’t sleep there. Later, after learning he really was a student, they would simply stop in to make sure he was doing OK.

The arrangement probably would have continued expect that Stanzak also kept a journal of his experiences on the Web. An April 15 entry in the journal read, in part, “I thank everyone who helps me get through the day, and it makes me realize that although I’m poor and live in a library ... I’m learning a lot about life, and that I’ll make it ...”

University officials discovered the on-line journal and had a talk with the young student.

This led to his being given a dorm room at no cost.

An NYU official said 70 percent of its students get financial aid. “If they come and talk with us, we find ways to help. Steve Stanzak just chose a pretty unique solution to his problem,” the spokesman said.

Obviously, though, this young man is going to make it in getting an education — and in life.

Published in Editorials on May 1, 2004 11:15 PM