NYU Shanghai staff ‘trapped’ amid harsh COVID lockdown

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Dozens of staff and vendors at NYU’s Shanghai campus have been “trapped” on campus for weeks, an administrator said.

“We have about 20 employees and 20 vendors who have been trapped on campus or in the dorm for weeks now unable to go home,” said Vice Chancellor Jeffrey Lehman in an April 11 Zoom call to faculty obtained by The Post. “One of those employees is our driver. We have only one driver who is authorized to drive on the city streets right now … He is mostly delivering food and things like that, emergency supplies.”

The New York University Shanghai campus in Shanghai, China, on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

The New York University Shanghai campus in Shanghai, China, on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.
(Yan Cong/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

NYU Shanghai students spend $76,783 per year in tuition and other fees.

“I’m assuming that a great many people associated with NYU and in Shanghai are experiencing food shortages,” said one frustrated faculty member. “People in my building are without food. And I live in a very upscale neighborhood. The whole distribution of food has been shut down.”

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Some have been documenting the ordeal on social media.

“Our third food package from our district in Pudong, Shanghai. Day 20 of our lockdown,” NYU Shanghai professor Rodrigo Zeidan said in a tweet Wednesday, sharing a video of three eggplants, four potatoes, six onions, three cabbages and a head of lettuce.

“The onions in particular are much appreciated as we haven’t had onions in over three weeks now,” he said.

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The city of Shanghai went into a total lockdown March 28, in an attempt to combat surging cases of the BA.2 Omicron variant of COVID-19. Residents have been forbidden from leaving their apartments. Food has become scarce, as supermarkets and grocery stores have closed.

“I have not seen anything so stressful for a community, a university, a city as what we are doing right now,” Lehman said on the call.

“It has become the norm for people in apartment buildings to band together and buy direct from wholesalers – a time-consuming process – and that is how most NYU Shanghai faculty are managing,” university spokesman John Beckman told The Post, adding that NYU students on campus were being regularly fed.

Aerial photo taken on Feb. 16, 2022 shows the construction site of the new campus of New York University NYU Shanghai, in east China's Shanghai.

Aerial photo taken on Feb. 16, 2022 shows the construction site of the new campus of New York University NYU Shanghai, in east China’s Shanghai.
(Fang Zhe/Xinhua via Getty Images)

“Some who live off campus and have special dietary needs have found themselves running low on needed foods, but our specially permitted car and driver has been able to make deliveries to them that meet their needs,” the spokesman said, adding that all but one of the university employees trapped on campus were Chinese nationals.

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Beckman also confirmed that NYU students and faculty in Shanghai were currently unable to see a doctor or receive medical care for anything but emergency services. He wouldn’t say how many American NYU students and faculty had been affected.

The NYU Shanghai student body has 2000 graduate and undergraduate students, half of whom come from China. The other half originates from the United States and 70 other nations around the world, according to their website.

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