NYU drops antisemitism charge against grad student

A graduate student worker who lost her on-campus job and was charged with counts of vandalism and antisemitism after writing on a discarded mailbag will be rehired by the university.


The postal bag that NYU graduate student Naye Idriss is charged with vandalizing.(Courtesy of Naye Idriss)

Yezen Saadah, News Editor

NYU dropped charges of vandalism and antisemitism that it had filed against a graduate student employee earlier this year after the graduate student union, GSOC-UAW Local 2110, filed multiple grievances with the National Labor Relations Board. Naye Idriss, the student and a member of the union, was fired from her job working in the Bobst Library mailroom last semester after writing “free Palestine” on a discarded Israeli mailbag, and “fuck” over the word “Israel.” She has since been rehired by the university.

Tova Benjamin, a Ph.D. student and Idriss’ union representative, said that the settlement between GSOC and NYU allowed Idriss to be paid for the amount of time she was without a job.

“It is GSOC’s position that NYU discriminated against Naye in the re-hiring process, both because of her union activity and because of the vandalism and antisemitism charges against her,” Benjamin said. “GSOC’s settlement with NYU, which saw Naye re-hired in her position, is a win for workers across NYU’s campus, and sends a strong message that our union will protect graduate workers from similar retaliation.”

Following the university’s accusations against Idriss in November of last year, President Andrew Hamilton received letters from organizations including the Middle East Studies Association, several of which demanded that he conduct a review of the university’s non-discrimination and harassment policy and its treatment of political speech.

University spokesperson John Beckman declined to comment on Idriss’ case, telling WSN that the university is not at liberty to discuss the specifics of individual employees or student matters.

NYU’s Office of Student Conduct notified Idriss that the antisemitism charge had been dropped in an email on Feb. 3. The email, signed by Mathew Shepard, the associate director of student conduct and operations, stated that her alleged violations of the university’s student conduct policy were resolved “given the specific circumstances of the incident.”

Following a string of incidents on campus that targeted Jewish students between 2017 and 2019, a student filed a lawsuit against the university, arguing that it discriminated against Jewish students. As a result of the lawsuit, in September 2020, NYU came to an agreement with the United States Department of Education about its procedure for addressing antisemitism on campus. In the agreement, the university committed to prohibiting discrimination based on shared ancestry and ethnic characteristics, a category that includes antisemitism, in its non-discrimination and harassment policy. 

Idriss’ lawyer, Dylan Saba, said that an investigation into the vandalism charge had been initiated, but was cut short due to the settlement. He said he believes the university wanted to resolve the vandalism charge before it moved forward with the antisemitism charge.

“NYU thought they could bully Naye and quietly silence Palestine organizers, but as soon as their suppression tactics were exposed, they backed down pretty quickly,” Saba said. “They withdrew the charge because we asked them to, as a part of negotiations to resolve the matter. Again, once they realized that they had screwed up by going after Naye in a politically targeted way, they backed down rather than face more heat.”

Correction (April 10): A previous version of this article misstated Mathew Shepard’s title and misspelled his first name. The article has been updated to correct the errors. WSN regrets the error.

Contact Yezen Saadah at [email protected].