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

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Law students vote to oust SBA president from position

Students at NYU Law voted to remove the president of the school’s Student Bar Association after they sent a statement in support of Palestinian resistance in a newsletter.
A portrait of a woman wearing a red, black and white shirt, a black blazer and silver earrings smiling.
Ryna Workman, former president of NYU School of Law’s Student Bar Association. (Courtesy of Ryna Workman)

NYU School of Law student Ryna Workman will no longer serve as president of the school’s Student Bar Association, after a schoolwide vote to remove them from the position. The vote came after Workman said “Israel bears full responsibility” for the loss of life in the Israel-Hamas war in an Oct. 10 newsletter, leading to an SBA board decision to begin their removal process.

Students were each sent a voting link attached to their NetID’s, and given from Nov. 15 to Nov. 22 to vote, according to an Office of Student Affairs email obtained by WSN. Out of 2,070 students, 1,176 voted, with 707 in favor of Workman’s removal and 428 voting for them to remain in their position. 

In an interview with WSN, Workman said that they did not initially receive the voting link, and that they were only told a vote was taking place through other students. They also said they were not initially told when voting would close. Workman said they were eventually given access to the link after contacting Student Affairs, and informed about the results of the vote before they were released. 

“To not even know that this vote was moving forward felt kind of disrespectful to me and a lack of courtesy,” Workman said. “I was disappointed in the outcome, but I wasn’t upset with law students regarding the vote. I really place a lot of the blame on the administration for taking the extraordinary steps for removing me as president when they did not elect me.”

Immediately after Workman’s statement in October, students were sent a petition to initiate the vote of no confidence, with the support of at least 25% of the student body needed to move forward. The vote was overseen by the Information Technology team at the law school, which helps conduct all SBA elections, as well as Student Affairs according to the email.

University spokesperson John Beckman said that neither NYU nor the law school were involved in launching the vote of no confidence in a written statement to WSN. After Workman’s removal process began, the rest of the SBA disbanded due to safety concerns.

The voters were law students, and Ryna Workman was, in fact, able to participate in the vote that decided the outcome of their presidency of the SBA,” Beckman said. “It is my understanding that Ryna Workman was informed of the outcome of the vote prior to the information being shared with the law school’s student body.”

In response to Workman’s October statement, the university, law school dean Troy McKenzie and the SBA each issued statements saying they did not share Workman’s views. 

Workman sent the message days after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israeli towns, where the Palestinian militant group killed over 1,200 civilians and took around 200 hostages into the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military has since initiated a ground invasion in Gaza, and has killed over 13,000 Palestinians so far, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Israel and Hamas have agreed to a temporary pause in the fighting in exchange for the release of dozens of Israeli hostages and 150 Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

“There were two different messages from administrators, both at the law school and at NYU more broadly, condemning my message and surely that colored students’ opinions of my message,” Workman said. “Administrators shouldn’t really be dictating to students what their opinions should be, especially on issues like this, in which thousands of people have died.”

On Oct. 12, McKenzie suspended Workman from their duties as president, which restricted their participation in meetings and messages they could send to the student body, according to an email from McKenzie to Workman obtained by WSN. Workman also lost a job offer from the international law firm Winston & Strawn after their message. 

Other members of the NYU community have also faced consequences for their actions surrounding the Israel-Hamas war. A physician at NYU Langone Health was removed from his residency program and is facing termination after reposting a message on his private Instagram account in support of Palestinian resistance. More than two weeks ago, Benjamin Neel, the former director of the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center, was fired from his position after reposts he made related to the conflict.

Workman said that between Oct. 10 and Oct. 29, they received 194 hate emails to their NYU email account, and received more messages on social media. They also said the suspension prevented them from being able to fulfill their role, which they think contributed to students’ lack of confidence in them.

“When people ask me if I regret what I did, I don’t, because I was giving my opinion to law students and someone else took my opinion and sent it outside of the law school community, which resulted in me getting doxxed, harassed, fired and ultimately resulted in a vote that removed me as SBA president,” Workman said. “Clearly people will be offended regardless of what I am saying because it is me saying it and because it is who I am advocating for.”

Contact Adrianna Nehme at [email protected].

About the Contributor
Adrianna Nehme, News Editor
Adrianna Nehme is a sophomore still trying to decide what to major in. Originally from a small town in Indiana, she moved to Chicago, Illinois for high school — where she was also the news editor for the school paper! She loves experiencing music live at concerts, seeking restaurants to try in the city and reading fiction novels — her all-time favorite is "The Cider House Rules" by John Irving. Check out her latest adventures on Instagram @adrianna.nehme.
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