New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo ripped into NYU’s administration for failing to break up the Sept. 5 rave, which is suspected to have been attended by NYU students.
“You know, we’re New York tough,” the Cuomo said, sitting next to a “New York Tough” graphic, during his Sept. 8 press conference. “That is not tough by the NYU administrators, who as soon as they heard it should have said, ‘Stop it,’ send the NYU security, break it down. It’s not tough by the New York City enforcement. They saw the large gathering, violation of social distancing — it wasn’t smart.”
University Spokesperson John Beckman replied with a statement clarifying that NYU Public Safety officers “are not law enforcement officers” and have no jurisdiction — much less power of arrest — in Washington Square Park, since the park is not campus property. Moreover, Beckman added, “though the event was populated with young people, it is unclear how many of the participants in the event actually were affiliated with NYU.”
The NYU administration has repeatedly told students to report violations of COVID-19 guidelines through the Office of Student Conduct’s COVID-19-compliance email. At least one student reported the rave via the compliance email. However, as WSN and NYU Local reported, the student received a response from the university reading: “Thanks to the reports you and other students submitted, NYPD and 311 have started to respond to the event.”
University Spokesperson Shonna Keogan told NYU Local that the university’s response referred to “reports submitted to the city, not to NYU.” When students contacted the COVID-19-compliance email about the rave, Keogan claimed, they were told to contact the city.
“We realize the wording of the message has led to some confusion,” Keogan said in a statement to WSN. “By way of clarification, a number of students sent emails to [email protected] to report violations of COVID-19-related health and safety protocols at Washington Square Park. Since NYU has no jurisdiction over activities in a public park, these students were instructed to reach out to New York City agencies through 311, the City’s information response line.”
“As a result of these complaints,” she added, “the City of New York alerted the NYPD, and our COVID-19 Prevention and Response Team made those students who lodged complaints aware of this development. NYU did not contact the NYPD directly.”
Besides lambasting the university, Cuomo chided the NYPD for not breaking up the rave. The Sixth Precinct of the NYPD did not respond to WSN’s requests for comment.
In his statement, Beckman made clear that any NYU student identified from the event will be suspended. And in her statement to WSN, Keogan added that “the Office of Student Conduct is indeed examining video we’ve received of the events in the park and will be following up on reports that have emanated over the weekend.”
Before the rave, 20 students had already been suspended for breaking COVID-19 guidelines, both on and off campus. The Office of Student Conduct released a statement on the nature of these violations.
“These suspensions have overwhelmingly involved large gatherings of NYU students in indoor, off-campus apartments that lacked any form of social distancing or face coverings,” the statement reads.
Multiple universities in New York are facing outbreaks of COVID-19; as WSN reported, SUNY Oneonta moved to remote learning after identifying more than 100 cases. According to the latest university update, NYU has 27 positive COVID-19 cases out of over 22,000 tests.
“They had large gatherings in Washington Square Park,” Cuomo said. “Frankly, NYU security didn’t do anything about it. The local police didn’t do anything about it. You have NYU students who come from other countries. You have a large gathering, many people without masks, it went on for hours. What do you think is going to happen? You know 108 colleges nationwide have this problem. You know we’re closing colleges all across the state. What do you think is going to happen?”
Email Matthew Fischetti at [email protected]