President Andrew Hamilton did not attend the annual President’s Service Awards, at which he was expected to recognize selected students and student groups. He attended the event last year.
“President Hamilton makes many University events, but he cannot make every one,” university spokesperson John Beckman said in a statement to WSN. “He was unable to make this one.”
CAS senior Rose Asaf — the president of NYU Jewish Voice for Peace and a Senator at-Large in the Student Government Assembly — speculated that this was because another student activist group, Students for Justice in Palestine, was chosen to receive an award this year.
“This year Students for Justice in Palestine won a Presidential Service Awards, and now the PRESIDENT of NYU is not coming to the PRESIDENTIAL service awards,” Asaf said in a tweet. “They are also not calling out the names of the award recipients. Pathetic.”
A small group of people was seen protesting the award being given to SJP outside of Kimmel Center for University Life, where the Service Awards were being presented.
SJP has advocated for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which asks institutions to end support for Israel and companies that support it. The group showed support for the SGA resolution which passed in December, originally titled “The Resolution on the Human Rights of Palestinians.” The resolution included references to the BDS movement at the time, and asked for a socially responsible investment policy that would require NYU to divest from Israel, although specific references to Israel and Palestine have since been removed from the resolution.
Soon after the resolution passed, the university released a statement denouncing it — an abnormal move — because of its ties to BDS. Hamilton has a history of opposing the BDS movement; he spoke out against it at a town hall in April 2018.
One student said she was disappointed in the president’s failure to appear.
“Just another example on how the president of NYU, Andy Hamilton, doesn’t care about the students at NYU,” CAS senior Andrea Olivares said in a tweet.
CAS senior and Student Government Assembly Chair Hüsniye Çöğür spoke at the event, recognizing SJP, among other student organizations like the Incarceration to Education Coalition and the Black Student Union.
NYU Realize Israel, a pro-Israel group on campus, publicly questioned the university granting SJP the President’s Service Award and said that the group has intimidated Jewish students on campus through their protests.
“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 April 5 Facebook post reads.
In mainly pro-Israel publications, it has been reported that NYU alumnus Judea Pearl renounced his Distinguished Alumnus Award, which he received from Tandon School of Engineering in 2013. Pearl, who graduated from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University in 1965 and is a Turing Award winner, also sent a letter to Hamilton, according to the publication Algemeiner.
“In the past five years, SJP has resorted to intimidation tactics that have made me, my colleagues and my students unwelcome and unsafe on our own campus,” Pearl wrote, according to Algemeiner. “The decision to confer an award on SJP, renders other NYU awards empty of content, and suspect of reckless selection process.”
NYU SJP did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.
Email Victor Porcelli at [email protected]