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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Student suspended after tearing down Israeli hostage posters

The student, who was identified online for taking down posters of Israeli hostages on campus in October, alleged she was previously told she would not be suspended in meetings with NYU leadership.
The+remnants+of+a+poster+showing+the+Israeli+hostages+who+are+missing+stuck+on+a+pillar+in+N.Y.U.%E2%80%99s+Stern+School+of+Business.+Behind+the+pillar+is+a+white+and+purple+N.Y.U.+flag+hanging+on+a+building.
Matt Petres
File Photo: Remnants of the Israeli hostage posters on the building of the Stern School of Business on Oct. 22. (Matt Petres for WSN)

NYU is suspending a first-year student who was identified online after tearing down posters of Israeli hostages outside the Stern School of Business, according to a Nov. 13 email from the Office of Student Conduct obtained by WSN. The student, who will be suspended from the end of fall 2023 until the start of fall 2024, alleged that the university had previously told her “suspension or expulsion were not being considered at all.”  

In the email, NYU said the student, Hafiza Khalique, violated the University Student Conduct Policy by vandalizing “university property or the property of others” as well as its Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment policies. Since the day she received the email, Khalique has been barred from taking part in meetings or events held by student organizations.

The OSC email also cites an Oct. 27 meeting with Khalique, during which “a different level of sanction” was communicated to her following the poster incident. The OSC said the university is “taking a strong stance” with violations of its conduct policies in the email, in particular with cases “involving calls for violence and offensive or intimidating conduct.” In the email, the OSC also stated that it consulted “with relevant university stakeholders” ahead of the decision to suspend Khalique.

“The fact remains that the posters related to the recent attacks by Hamas which targeted Jewish and Israeli people, and the posters displayed victims of those attacks,” the email reads. “Accordingly, OSC has determined that the act of tearing down the posters is inherently based on the actual or perceived national origin, ethnicity and/or shared ancestry of Israelis and individuals of Jewish ancestry.”

According to the email, Khalique said she removed the posters because she believed they were “‘propaganda’ used by ‘the mainstream media’ to ‘whitewash’ the conflict.” In an interview with WSN, Khalique said she appealed NYU’s decision on Nov. 17, but has not yet received a response from the university. An NYU spokesperson did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

“All the racism, all the Islamophobia, all the discrimination that I’ve been facing — and NYU still refused to acknowledge the doxxing, to acknowledge the students who are behind this,” Khalique said. “Instead, they went against their word and they suspended me.”

Six on-campus groups, including Students for Justice in Palestine and Faculty for Justice in Palestine, signed a statement calling for NYU to reinstate Khalique, and also started an online petition that has garnered more than 6,700 signatures. The petition is demanding the “immediate reinstatement of all students suspended for Palestine activism” and for the university to publicly apologize for an alleged “failure to protect vulnerable students.”

In October, photos and videos of Khalique tearing down posters outside Tisch Hall — alongside another NYU student and a third unidentified individual  — garnered millions of views online. At the time, an NYU spokesperson said the identified students could face disciplinary action. Khalique said she has not been in contact with the other individuals involved since the incident, and is unsure if they will also be suspended.

Khalique told WSN she wasn’t able to leave her dorm for weeks after the incident, and that she faced “racist” and “fatphobic” harassment for taking down the posters. Khalique also criticized the university’s use of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, which includes “the targeting of the state of Israel,” in its non-discrimination policies.

“The backlash was relentless,” Khalique said. “There are people calling for me to be jailed, for me to be executed, for me to be murdered, assaulted — for me to be deported, for me to be sent to Gaza. This was all over right-wing media, this was on news outlets. My face was broadcast on the news and people were demanding that I should be expelled and deported for tearing down posters that were unauthorized to be there.”

Since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war, NYU has reviewed more than 90 student conduct cases “related to current concerns,” according to a Nov. 30 email to the university community from administrators. They also said several students have faced disciplinary action since the start of the war, including “significant suspensions.” Khalique said that she was one of the 90 cases referred to in the report.

“I don’t regret my actions that day and I will not apologize for them as well,” Khalique told WSN. “It was an act of supporting Palestinian liberation unequivocally. It was an act of standing against genocide, and I am proud to be on the right side of history.”

Contact Bruna Horvath at [email protected].

About the Contributors
Bruna Horvath, News Editor
Bruna Horvath is a sophomore studying journalism and English at CAS. When she’s not a Deputy News Editor, she’s a "Gone Girl" enthusiast, a Goodreads lover, and a Barnes & Noble frequenter. You can usually find her ordering an iced mocha, telling people her name is “Bruna” not “Bruno,” or on Instagram @brunaahorvath.
Matt Petres, Photo Editor
Matt Petres is a first-year studying Economics. He is from Chicago, Illinois and likes to bike and kayak. You can contact him on Instagram @matt.petres
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  • A

    Andrea LDec 9, 2023 at 3:11 pm

    Nice to see young journalists present the news without any apparent bias when dealing with such a divisive issue as this.

    Reply
  • S

    ShawDec 9, 2023 at 2:51 pm

    Well written article

    Reply