Over 100 NYU students and New York City activists gathered in Washington Square Park on the evening of Sept. 28 to oppose the leaflets posted by IDENTITY EVROPA — which was designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — in the Kimmel Center for University Life.
Fifteen NYU clubs took part in organizing the event. Representatives from nearly all of the student clubs addressed the crowd and spoke publicly on the problems they identify in our society and the change they hope to see.
Leen Dweik, CAS junior and member of Student for Justice in Palestine, Student Labor Action Movement and the Democratic Socialists of America, said she wished the university would start to care less about its public image and more about its students.
“NYU has not done anything or said anything regarding the [IDENTITY] EVROPA poster which, in it of itself, says volumes,” Dweik said. “If you’re willing to ignore the fact that white supremacist pamphlets are being littered around campus says you don’t care about the safety and well-being of your students.”
Dweik said that the common denominator among the many different clubs in attendance that night was that all 15 clubs oppose bigotry of any kind.
“Any time something like this happens on campus we make it clear that we wholeheartedly reject white supremacy, racism and anti-Semitism on campus,” Dweik said.
This sentiment was visually articulated this evening when the Black and Brown Coalition at NYU invited every African American person in the audience to join them on the platform and lead the rest of the audience in a few protest chants honoring people who were killed by police brutality.
A student speaker who preferred to remain anonymous, spoke to the audience on behalf of her community when a pedestrian interrupted her.
“It’s important to note that the person who heckled me on stage was literally in blackface, and I don’t think some people in the back realized that,” they said. “One of the comments he said to me after I told him you need to back off was ‘you need to stop being so fucking cocky.’ That really spoke to the stereotypes Asian women face of being docile — and all marginalized communities, for that matter.”
They also said all marginalized communities need to protect one another and make each other feel safe.
CAS junior Rose Asaf — a member of SLAM, SJP and Jewish Voice for Peace, among others — said it is NYU’s responsibility to make sure students feel safe.
“Yet, it is the job of the student activists to do that work,” Asaf said. “That unpaid work, mind you.”
Asaf, who also recently spoke to Mayor Bill de Blasio about SLAM’s initiative to get a student on the NYU Board of Trustees, said she was very pleased with how the community came together.
“I think that the space that the attendees created was wonderful, healing, radical and safe,” Asaf said. “I feel very happy with how things went.”
Email Miranda Levingston at [email protected]