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 government passes resolution to protect pro-Palestinian activity

The resolution, which was proposed at a student government meeting more than two weeks ago, calls on NYU to “reaffirm protection” for pro-Palestinian student activity on campus.
Susan Behrends Valenzuela
(Illustration by Susan Behrends Valenzuela)

The Student Government Assembly passed a resolution aimed at reaffirming pro-Palestinian speech on campus “with overwhelming support” at a meeting on Thursday, according to student government chair Ryan Carney. The SGA also voted in support of a letter demanding that NYU take “a firm stand against” intimidation or harassment directed at student leaders and organizations, particularly the university’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. 

The resolution, which was introduced alongside another proposal condemning the “endorsement, promotion or excusing” of terrorism on campus at a November Student Senators Council meeting, will be proposed to the University Senate for final approval in February. 

Lamisa Khan, the SGA senator at-large for Muslim women who proposed the resolution, said its goal is to call for adequate protections for pro-Palestinian students on campus and for the university to recognize their right to free speech and civic engagement.

“What I really wanted to accomplish here was protecting students,” Khan said in an interview with WSN. “A lot of people have come to me saying that things have been really vague, that they have gotten in trouble because they didn’t understand that this was against the rules, that this was against student conduct. Having that level of transparency and understanding — that’s the biggest thing in ensuring student safety.”

Khan’s resolution cited reports of Campus Safety and police “intimidation” at on-campus pro-Palestinian demonstrations, “anti-Arab sentiments” on campus and the “misidentifying” of pro-Palestinian speech as being antisemitic. The resolution also demanded that NYU update its Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment policies to emphasize the rights of pro-Palestinian students, issue a statement affirming students’ right to promote pro-Palestinian action and expand its Safe Ride program to improve student safety. 

In a written statement to WSN, Carney said that due to the student government’s “overwhelming support” of the resolution, he hopes to see the resolution passed by the University Senate. He said he thinks the resolution would improve university protections for pro-Palestinian students’ ability to protest. 

“It’s been rare for student resolutions to even be brought to the floor,” Carney wrote. “It boils down to academic freedom and the right to dissent and protest, which I believe NYU can embrace.”

At the Thursday meeting, the student government also passed a letter to NYU leadership expressing “deep concern” regarding reports of threats to student leaders and on-campus organizations, particularly the “repeated targeting” of members of NYU’s SJP chapter. The letter, addressed to President Linda Mills and other university administrators, was introduced by Cameron Grant, the SGA senator at-large for Black students.

“It is of utmost importance that we emphasize the university’s unwavering commitment and demonstration of the principles of free speech, academic freedom and the right of students to express their views without fear of reprisal,” the letter reads. “Any limiting of those rights, in unofficial or official capacities, whether it be the removal of common spaces under the guise of safety or the unequal distribution of punishment to one side or the other is entirely unacceptable.”

Throughout the last few months, as on-campus tensions over the Israel-Hamas war have continued to grow, the university has closed off a number of public spaces. In October, NYU closed off the staircase at the Kimmel Center for University Life, which has long been a space for student protests and activism during global crises. Ahead of some pro-Palestinian protests over the last few weeks, Campus Safety and police officers have blocked off outdoor areas on campus like Schwartz Plaza and Gould Plaza with metal barriers. 

The letter also cited the removal of NYU Law’s Student Bar Association president after they wrote a message in a newsletter saying “Israel bears full responsibility” for the loss of life in the Israel-Hamas war. After sending the message, the student’s job offer at an international law firm was revoked, and the remaining members of the SBA resigned due to safety concerns.

“Since SGA voted in overwhelming support, my objective is to see the execution of the resolution that NYU protects Palestinian students’ ability to protest and dissent and engage in civic activity,” Carney wrote to WSN. “With everything going on in the United States, we must see the implementation of the resolution from NYU.”

Contact Maisie Zipfel at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Maisie Zipfel
Maisie Zipfel, Deputy News Editor
Maisie Zipfel is a first-year double majoring in Journalism and Politics, and double minoring in Gender and Sexuality Studies and Spanish. She is a Yerba Mate enthusiast, a Taylor Swift fanatic and an anti-Greek Life turned sorority girl (Deeph or Die). When she’s not writing in the WSN basement you can find her isolated in Palladium for NYU’s Competitive Dance Team practice, obsessing over her Four-Year Plan or trying to weave in time to take a nap. You can reach her on instagram @maisiezipfel, on LinkedIn (her favorite social media platform) @MaeZipfel or preferably on Venmo @mkzipfel.
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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