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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Hochul says universities could face legal consequences for handling of antisemitism

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul told universities in the state, including NYU, that they could lose government funding if they fail to address antisemitism on their campuses.
Krish Dev
Governor Kathy Hochul penned a letter to New York institutions this week. (Graphic by Krish Dev)

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul warned universities across the state that they could be “deemed ineligible” for state and federal funding if they fail to protect students from discrimination, particularly antisemitism, in a Dec. 9 letter. In a letter to Hochul obtained by WSN, NYU president Linda Mills and Senior Vice President for University Life Jason Pina asserted that the university “does not tolerate calling for the death of any person or group of people.”

“Any such call on our campus would violate our long-established rules on non-discrimination and anti-harassment, and would subject those involved to our disciplinary procedures,” Mills and Pina wrote. “NYU is fully committed to providing an environment where our students can live and learn in peace, and where threats, harassment, intimidation, and violence have no place.”

Hochul referenced a recent congressional hearing where the presidents of Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania gave testimony on how they are addressing antisemitism on their campuses, and said she was “shocked to see” some university presidents fail to “clearly and unequivocally denounce antisemitism and calls for genocide of the Jewish people.” Elizabeth Magill, the president of UPenn, resigned from her position after the hearing following backlash from lawmakers

“I assure you that if any school in New York State is found to be in violation, I will activate the state’s Division of Human Rights to take aggressive enforcement action and will refer possible Title VI violations to the federal government,” Hochul’s letter reads. “The moral lapses that were evidenced by the disgraceful answers to questions posed during this week’s congressional hearing cannot and will not be tolerated here in the state of New York.”

The Dec. 6 congressional hearing came shortly after students from NYU, Harvard, UPenn and MIT shared their experiences with antisemitism on campus at a news briefing held by House Republicans. NYU junior Bella Ingber was one of the students who spoke at the hearing, where she criticized the university’s handling of antisemitism and accused it of enforcing conduct policies inconsistently. 

Ingber and two other Jewish students filed a lawsuit against NYU last month, claiming the university has been indifferent to instances of antisemitism on campus since the start of the Israel-Hamas war. The university has denied the allegations, saying it has taken action to combat antisemitism on campus.

In her letter, Hochul said failing to address antisemitic activity on campus violates both New York state and federal civil rights laws. She said that under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, federal funding recipients are required to protect students from a “hostile environment” due to their ethnicity or national origin, which includes antisemitism. 

In 2019, NYU was accused of mishandling incidents of antisemitism on campus and violating the Civil Rights Act in a complaint filed by a Jewish student. The complaint resulted in an agreement with the federal government to specifically address discrimination on the basis of shared ancestry, including antisemitism, in its Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment policies.

Hochul also called on universities to have “a clearly defined and well publicized mechanism for individuals to report complaints.” Her letter was announced at a Jewish temple in upstate New York on Dec. 8, where a man had fired a shotgun outside just a day before.

In NYU’s response — also signed by Senior Vice President for University Life Jason Pina — Mills reiterated the university’s Guidance and Expectations on Student Conduct, as well as increased security measures around campus. Mills and Pina also cited NYU’s recent report on student conduct, which noted that the university has reviewed more than 90 conduct cases since the start of the war. 

NYU, like many other universities across the country, has faced criticism over its handling of rising on-campus tensions due to the conflict in Gaza. Many students and faculty have been protesting the university’s response to the rising Palestinian death toll over the last few weeks, and other students have criticized NYU for not supporting its Jewish community.

Yezen Saadah contributed reporting.

Contact Adrianna Nehme at [email protected].

About the Contributors
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.
Krish Dev, Multimedia Editor
Krish is a first-year planning to major in Computer Science and Linguistics at CAS. In his free time, he enjoys posting photos on @krish_dev.creations, obsessing over geography, watching new films with the other Multimedia Editors, taking public transport to new places and letting Arsenal make or break his week.
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  • L

    Louis DailyDec 11, 2023 at 3:48 pm

    If you call Israel a terrorist state that comes pretty close to advocating violence against Jews. It has to be intimidating to Jewish employees and students, a “hostile environment”. You could critics Israel, you can be for a ceasefire, but calling Israel terrorist seems beyond the pale, especially considering their history of being attacked. As a private university, MIT may not have to conform to harassment law, but they could put their own code into affect, especially in view of the holocaust and rampant antisemitic behavior.