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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FJP claims NYU ‘forced’ pro-Palestinian students to relocate teach-in

In a letter to administrators, NYU’s chapter of Faculty for Justice in Palestine accused the university of “shutting down” a teach-in planned by a group of graduate students.
A+protester+holds+a+cardboard+sign+reading+Faculty+for+Justice+in+Palestine+above+a+crowd+in+a+park.
Alex Tey
File Photo: A pro-Palestinian rally at Washington Square Park on Oct. 17, where NYU professors launched the organization Faculty for Justice in Palestine. (Alex Tey for WSN)

NYU’s Faculty for Justice in Palestine claimed a pro-Palestinian teach-in was relocated after organizers — a group of graduate students — were “threatened with disciplinary action” from the university in a Dec. 6 letter to President Linda Mills and Interim Provost Georgina Dopico. The university said it has “long-standing” rules for on-campus events that require spaces to be reserved in advance, that its policies are applied impartially, and that it expects “all members of the NYU community to adhere to them.”

In the letter, FJP, which co-sponsored the teach-in, claimed organizers were “forced” to relocate the event after Students Supporting Israel — a recently formed pro-Israeli student group — allegedly sent hundreds of complaints to the Office of Global Inclusion, Diversity, and Strategic Innovation targeting the event and its speakers, which included Palestinian writer Mohammed el-Kurd. 

“NYU is unswervingly committed to academic freedom,” university spokesperson John Beckman said in a statement to WSN. “At the same, we aim to foster a safe environment, an environment where students and all members of our community can live, live, and pursue their scholarly interests in peace and safety. This is why NYU laid out a 10-Point Plan to enhance campus safety: so that the university can do best what it does best — teach, educate, conduct research, and promote the free exchange of ideas.”

The teach-in event, titled “Unsettling NYU Tel Aviv: Ending NYU’s Complicity in Palestinian Genocide,” had been planned to take place on campus on Dec. 1. The event relocated to Judson Memorial Church due to safety concerns from the Department of Campus Safety, in part because there was no planned location for the event. Students Supporting Israel did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 

“That is bureaucratic doublespeak,” Sara Pursley, a CAS professor and member of FJP, told WSN. “The letter says very clearly that the event ‘cannot proceed in any NYU building.’ To say that is not shutting down the event as an on-campus event is simply not true. The doublespeak and the vague suggestions that somehow they were violating a discrimination or harassment policy is really insidious because it suggests they were doing something vague and unspecified and wrong. In any case, they should have spelled out what policy the students were violating.” 

In a Nov. 30 email from Campus Safety to SJP and LSJP obtained by WSN, NYU reiterated its Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment policies, University Student Conduct Policy and club guidelines. The university’s Student Activities Board Policy Guide, which includes rules for on-campus groups, states that clubs must register events with the Center for Student Life and file a form prior to the event, with exceptions for time-sensitive “free speech activities” like protests or rallies. The guide also states that clubs are not allowed to conduct activities in “private areas.”

In a previous statement, NYU’s graduate student union claimed the university “suppressed” the teach-in event and accused NYU of canceling “several” pro-Palestinian events on campus. The union also called the recent increase in policing and surveillance around the university’s Washington Square and Brooklyn campuses “deeply concerning” for pro-Palestinian students and workers, and accused NYU of “racist targeting of workers for sanction.” 

“Students for Justice in Palestine and Law Students for Justice in Palestine are really under a lot of pressure,” Pursley told WSN. “They’re under surveillance from the university and we want to stand up for them. That’s partly why Faculty for Justice in Palestine was formed — so the administration and Campus Safety does not feel like they can go after these groups with impunity, but that seems to be how they’re responding right now. It’s very unfair to the students.”

Contact Yezen Saadah at [email protected].

About the Contributors
Yezen Saadah, Deputy Managing Editor
Yezen Saadah is a sophomore 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, Twitter @yezen_saadah and — most importantly — Letterboxd @Yezen, or just send tips to [email protected].
Alex Tey, Editor-at-Large
Alex Tey was previously WSN’s editor-in-chief. She is now at large. Watch out!
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