The Student Activities Board’s rejection of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality’s club application is an act of political censorship against socialists and an attack on the democratic rights of the entire campus community. The SAB serves more to prevent student activities than to promote them. Students need to be aware that the SAB’s undemocratic decision-making process means it censors democratic debate by rejecting nearly 90 percent of club applicants.
The IYSSE collected the signatures of over 200 NYU students who support the IYSSE’s campaign against war, inequality and the Democratic and Republican Parties. In response, the SAB put forward baseless arguments, claiming the IYSSE’s aims overlap with that of other clubs. As we stated in our reply to this contention, “[NYU students] have the right to hear a diversity of standpoints” from campus organizations.
The SAB claimed that clubs must be denied recognition because of a supposed lack of university resources. But NYU can spend over $1 million to renovate the university president’s Greenwich Village penthouse apartment, has an endowment of $3.5 billion and its list of trustees reads like a who’s who of Wall Street and hedge fund billionaires. Is it any wonder that these financial aristocrats want to block socialism from winning a hearing on campus?
The attack on students’ right to form groups is even more significant when one considers its context — the election victory of Donald Trump, ushering in what will be the most right-wing government in U.S. history. NYU students and millions of others are seeking explanations for Trump’s election, especially considering the fact that more than 13 million primary voters backed a candidate who called himself a socialist earlier this year. Trump has called for unprecedented attacks on the First Amendment, threatening to jail and revoke citizenship of people engaging in constitutionally protected speech and denouncing his opposition as “professional protestors.”
The IYSSE stands for uniting the working class and youth of all races and nationalities in a common struggle against Trump, both big business parties, war and social inequality. The decision of the SAB, which is politically connected to the Democratic Party, will curtail political debate and discussion so necessary at this time.
We are launching a campaign to democratize the group application process so that all voices can be heard. We will continue to expose the connections of the NYU administration to Wall Street, the U.S. military and gulf dictatorships like the United Arab Emirates to prove the need for a fighting opposition to capitalism on campus. We urge all members of the NYU community who believe in free speech to email us and join our campaign.
Isaac Oseas is a graduate student and activist at NYU. Email him at [email protected].