NYU Students for Justice in Palestine — which often conflicts with the university’s administration — was selected to receive the President’s Service Award, the group announced on Facebook on April 4.
“We are thrilled to announce that we have been selected to receive a presidential service award at NYU,” SJP wrote in a Facebook post. “Despite the pushback we have received from our institution.”
The President’s Service Award is an annual award given out to recognize students and student organizations that have positively impacted the NYU community through significant contributions to either community service and civic engagement or student leadership and campus programming. For SJP, this means raising awareness about the current conflict between Israel and Palestine and conducting activism through protests, pledges and the occasional op-ed, among other things. The group supports Palestinian independence and rights, including their right to land in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
“By [the] giving of your time, energy and talents, you have positively impacted the culture of this institution and members of our community,” NYU said in an email to SJP.
The annual service award goes to more than 50 extra-curricular clubs and 100 individuals selected by a group of student affairs staffers from across the university and a student representative, according to university spokesperson John Beckman.
SJP’s most recent efforts have been in the context of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement which seeks for countries, institutions and individuals to stop supporting Israel and any companies that support it. SJP frequently holds events and hosts speakers on topics such as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and countering Islamophobia. Recently, they declared a victory in December, when the Student Government Assembly voted in support of a resolution pushing for a socially responsible investment policy at NYU that referenced the BDS movement. The resolution was initially titled “The Resolution on the Human Rights of Palestinians,” and cited investments in corporations involved with Israel as examples of socially irresponsible investments. References to Israel and Palestine have since been removed from the resolution.
SJP, as well as individual members of the group, declined to comment.
NYU Realize Israel, a pro-Israel group on campus, publicly denounced the university granting SJP the award and claimed that SJP has contributed to a negative environment for some students. The group sees support of the BDS movement as anti-Semitic.
“By presenting the NYU President’s Award to SJP, not only is our university condoning violence and discrimination against members of the NYU community, but it is declaring that this type of behavior represents the ethos of our university,” the group wrote on Facebook.
Director of Recruitment for Realize Israel Jordana Meyer told WSN that the group was upset when they saw SJP would be receiving the award.
“When they announced on Facebook that they had been awarded that honor, we were immediately outraged,” Meyer said. “[SJP has] actively worked to intimidate students of certain faiths and political affiliations, and they create a hostile environment on campus for several communities.”
SJP will be presented the award at the President’s Service Awards ceremony on Wednesday, April 17 at 4 p.m. in the Kimmel Eisner and Lubin Auditorium.
Email Lachlan Hyatt at [email protected]