In an email to WSN, NYU spokesman John Beckman said the university is preparing to respond to a recent letter signed by 105 faculty members condemning the administration’s threats to discipline activists from the Student Labor Action Movement and NYU Divest.
Nineteen SLAM and Divest members occupied the Kimmel Center for University Life on the night of April 9, violating two university policy rules. The building typically closes at midnight, and security officers had worked overtime as student activists slept on the Kimmel steps.
“Dissent and free speech are not the same thing as disrupting university operations,” Beckman wrote in his email. “We never punish students for the former, but that the latter do make students subject to the disciplinary system.”
SLAM and Divest members were repeatedly warned by Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Marc Wais that disruption of university operations may result in disciplinary action. On April 10, the 19 occupants attended a meeting with the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards. Following the meeting, parents of the occupants were called and notified of potential disciplinary consequences that the students themselves had not been made aware of, including suspension, expulsion, loss of financial aid and removal from NYU Housing.
“Notifying parents in disciplinary cases is a longstanding practice, that it comes from our instinct to protect students, that we do it precisely because there are instances when the implications for students can be serious, and that the parents expressed gratitude for the calls by-and-large,” Beckman wrote.
Gallatin senior and SLAM member Hannah Fullerton expressed gratitude to the 105 faculty members criticizing the administration.
“We are so grateful to our radical faculty who consistently show up when we need them and continue to be some of our greatest role models as activists,” Fullerton said. “We urge the administration to seriously and thoughtfully consider and respond to the faculty’s letter of support.”
When told that the university plans to respond to faculty in the next few days, Fullerton said that her comments still stand.
NYU President Andrew Hamilton and CAS fifth-year and Student Body President Juan Calero will hold a town hall meeting in Kimmel on April 19, open to all members of the NYU community. SLAM and Divest members told WSN they plan to have a presence at the meeting, although they have not yet decided on the specific actions they plan to take.
Email Alex Domb at [email protected].