Students demand more from Hamilton on Iran demonstrations

Members of the Persian Cultural Society urged NYU to do more to recognize the human rights demonstrations in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini on Oct. 12.


Jason Alpert-Wisnia

A vigil was held to mourn the death of Mahsa Amini and to urge NYU to recognize the human rights demonstrations in Iran. (Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

Yezen Saadah, Staff Writer

More than 100 NYU students gathered in the Kimmel Center for University Life on Wednesday, to honor Mahsa Amini — a 22-year-old woman who died in police custody in Iran — and the activists who have participated in anti-government protests against Iran. Participants urged NYU to send a universitywide email, unsatisfied by a statement that university president Andrew Hamilton delivered at a University Senate meeting on Oct. 6. 

In his statement, Hamilton addressed protests that are occurring at academic institutions in Iran and commended students who were supporting the movement.

“I believe I speak for everyone in the Senate and indeed the university when I express my admiration for the courage of the students who are standing up for justice and women’s rights, and our hope for all of us that this violence will end quickly,” Hamilton said at the University Senate meeting. “We have reached out to our students from Iran to support them and to provide any resources that they need to get through this very difficult time in their country.”

A group of students sitting on the large staircase inside the lobby of New York University’s Kimmel Center for Student Life with one person in the front row holding a sign with text “WOMAN LIFE FREEDOM” printed on it.
More than 100 members of the NYU community attended the event. (Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

Mahsa Amini, an Iranian Kurdish woman, was killed in Tehran on Sept. 16 after she was arrested for not wearing a hijab. Her family said that witnesses saw officers beat her in a police van after the arrest.

The gathering at Kimmel followed another vigil last week that was organized by a student organization. It was co-sponsored by NYU’s Center for Global Spiritual Life, the Division of Student Affairs, the Office of Global Inclusion, Diversity and Strategic Innovation, and the student government.

At the first vigil on Sept. 29, members of the Persial Cultural Society, the student club which organized it, expressed frustration with the university’s response to the Iran conflict and called on NYU to issue a statement to its community.

The vice president of New York University’s Persian Cultural Society Kiana Naderi speaks behind a wooden podium with a bouquet of yellow flowers placed on it.
Kiana Naderi, an SPS graduate student and vice president of the Persian Cultural Society, called on the university to acknowledge the Iran protests. (Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

Kiana Naderi, an SPS graduate student who is the vice president of the Persian Cultural Society, said that she is disappointed in university leadership for its lack of acknowledgement of Amini’s death. She called on Hamilton to offer resources for those in the Iranian diaspora.

“We’re members of the Iranian diaspora and we want to make sure we have representation because we’re the most accurate voice that NYU has access to — it’s the best time to profit from our voices, and we hope they do a better job at doing that,” Naderi said.

Roksaneh Salartash, a Gallatin sophomore who is a member of the Persian Cultural Society, said that although she appreciates the statement issued by Hamilton, she wishes the statement had been sent out in an email to the university community because of the outpouring of support she witnessed at the vigil. 

“Today’s vigil definitely showed that it’s not just the Persian Cultural Society that cares about what’s going on in Iran right now,” Salartash said. “There were a lot of non-Iranians at the vigil, which is important because those are the people who we need to spread awareness too.”

Salartash noted that other universitywide statements addressing international conflicts have been made in the past, including one on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Salartash added that she believes NYU has an obligation to give the issue more attention, citing instances of the Iranian government enacting violence against student protesters.

LS sophomore Tara Sabet, who helps manage social media for the Persian Cultural Society, said that many students with family members in Iran are currently unable to visit, and the university should listen to Iranian students about the conflict.

“We’re struggling, and we’re not able to focus because it is the only thing we’re thinking about,” Sabet said. “Our family members are in danger, and it just felt like very little acknowledgement. Internationally, this issue affects everybody.”

Contact Yezen Saadah at [email protected].