New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Student gov’t proposals call on NYU to condemn on-campus support for terrorism and protect pro-Palestinian speech

The two resolutions were proposed at a student government meeting, with one demanding that NYU leadership protect pro-Palestinian speech and another condemning on-campus support for terrorism amid the Israel-Hamas war.
Susan Behrends Valenzuela
(Illustration by Susan Behrends Valenzuela)

Members of the student government proposed two new resolutions — one calling for the university to “reaffirm protection” for pro-Palestinian speech and another condemning “endorsement, promotion or excusing” of terrorism on campus — at a meeting on Thursday, amid on-campus tensions over the Israel-Hamas war. 

The proposals are in response to both hundreds of reported incidents of antisemitism on campus, and claims of students being identified online and facing employment discrimination over pro-Palestinian speech. The resolutions were discussed at a meeting held by the Student Senators Council, a 39-person student government body that includes elected representatives for every school and college at NYU and appointed senators at-large.

The Student Government Assembly, the university’s representative student body, will vote on whether to pass the resolutions in December, once they are finalized. SGA chair Ryan Carney said the meeting was organized as a way for on-campus student groups to express safety concerns since the Israel-Hamas war began last month. 

“It’s a sensitive topic for many students and senators that are directly impacted by it,” Carney said in an interview with WSN. “They have friends or family in the region that are directly impacted, and then there are students that are indirectly impacted. It was a discussion that showcased open dialogue and what the students are feeling right now.”

The first proposal presented at the meeting, which was obtained by WSN, demanded better protections for pro-Palestinian speech and student activity on campus, and claimed the university hasn’t done enough to support its Palestinian community. It also demanded that NYU update its Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy to reiterate the rights of pro-Palestinian students, expand its existing Safe Ride program to improve student safety and issue a statement affirming pro-Palestinian students’ right to political discourse. 

Lamisa Khan, the SGA senator at-large for Muslim women, proposed the resolution, and said the university needs to take claims of harassment and discrimination against pro-Palestinian students on campus more seriously.

“The goal of this resolution is quite literally to reaffirm policy, speech and expression on campus and, importantly, to be able to have that right in a safe manner,” Khan said at the meeting. “What we want is for the university to issue a statement affirming that Palestinian and pro-Palestinian students have that right.”

The second resolution, also obtained by WSN, condemned support for civilian murder and terrorism on campus, urged students and faculty to promote peaceful dialogue around the war and called for on-campus organizations, departments and leaders to educate the NYU community on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It also proposed that the SGA recognize that “freedom of hate speech does not mean freedom from social accountability.” 

Graduate Student Council representative Justin Feldman, who presented the proposal, said the resolution is intended to promote empathy on campus and combat incidents of antisemitism and Islamophobia in the last few months. 

“This resolution unequivocally defines and disavows the systematic justification of violence against unarmed civilians anywhere in the world by members of our NYU community,” Feldman wrote to WSN. “The resolution comes in the wake of a disproportionate peak in antisemitic hate crimes globally, including assault on our campus, as well as a cited resurgence of Islamophobia, all in relation to the Hamas-Israel war since the terror attacks of Oct. 7. I welcome all to reject implicitly-biased assumptions and to read the action items of the text for themselves. We need to revive human empathy on campus.”

Last month, Hamas — the Palestinian militant group controlling the Gaza Strip — launched a violent assault on nearby Israeli towns, killing more than 1,400 civilians and taking over 200 hostage. In response, the Israeli military began firing airstrikes in the region and has since initiated a ground invasion, killing over 10,000 Palestinians so far, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Just yesterday, Israel agreed to four-hour daily pauses in its ongoing fighting in Gaza following international demands for a cease-fire.

Tensions over the Israel-Hamas war at NYU have erupted in the last month, with several pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian demonstrations having taken place on campus. At some protests, students and faculty demanded that NYU shut down its study abroad site in Tel Aviv due to an Israeli law barring foreigners who have supported a boycott of the country from entering. The university has repeatedly stood by its Tel Aviv program and said that ending it would violate academic freedom.

At an SSC meeting last year, two student government representatives proposed a resolution calling on the university to suspend NYU Tel Aviv due to the law. At the time, the representatives said the law bars many students of Arab, Palestinian or Muslim descent from studying at the site, and that NYU has violated its Code of Ethical Conduct and Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy by continuing operations there.

A student government representative, who requested to be anonymous due to safety concerns, said they think NYU needs to do more to recognize its Palestinian and pro-Palestinian students.

“Time and again, the university has failed to recognize Palestinian students and has failed to stand by them,” the student told WSN. “I do see a lot of merits to the resolution in terms of the steps that the university can take. Those can apply to pro-Palestinian students, Jewish students and other students who are affected by this.”

Also at the meeting was Ryna Workman, an NYU Law student who was removed as president of the school’s Student Bar Association after saying “Israel bears full responsibility” for the violence in the region in a weekly newsletter and supporting Palestinian resistance. In a written statement to WSN, Workman called the SSC’s pro-Palestinian resolution “absolutely necessary,” and criticized the other proposal for spreading “racist propaganda.”

“A resolution comprised of both misinformation and disinformation with no credible sources should never have been brought before the SSC in the first place,” Workman wrote. “Going forward, there needs to be some safeguards in place during these meetings so that presenters are not given a platform to spread misinformation and racist propaganda unchallenged.”

Recently, NYU was named twice in a U.S. Senate resolution condemning “antisemitic student activities” on college campuses across the country, specifically citing Workman’s message and demonstrations by the student group Students for Justice in Palestine. 

Carney said that once finalized, the resolutions will allow students to continue conversations about the war and how the issues included in the resolutions have personally affected them.

“These resolutions are still in the beginning stages,” Carney told WSN. “Once they’re finalized, we will be happy to continue those conversations to really hear from students.”

Contact Yezen Saadah at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Yezen Saadah
Yezen Saadah, Editor-in-Chief
Yezen Saadah is a junior studying cinema studies, journalism and Middle Eastern studies. He's a lover of cinema, history, art and literature, and he enjoys writing about pretty much anything. If he isn't in the newsroom or at the movies, he's probably just trying to enjoy his day off. Contact him on Instagram @yezen.saadah or send tips to [email protected]
Susan Behrends Valenzuela
Susan Behrends Valenzuela, Editor-at-Large
Susan Behrends Valenzuela is a senior studying studio art at Steinhardt and minoring in Media, Culture, and Communication. She is passionate about the intersection of art and media, and is particularly fond of zines and small magazines. When she's not working or making art, she can be found co-running an art zine with her friend, rollerskating, sewing, baking or scrolling through Instagram.

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