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

Administrators stop pro-Palestinian demonstration at Bobst

Around 20 NYU students and faculty gathered in the lobby of Bobst Library to read pro-Palestinian poetry before two university administrators and a group of Campus Safety officers confronted them.
Adrita Talukder
John Beckman responding to student protestors at a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Bobst Library. (Photo by Adrita Talukder)

Two NYU administrators interrupted a group of around 20 students and faculty reading poetry in support of Palestinian resistance yesterday at Bobst Library, leading the group to disperse and leave the building. University spokesperson John Beckman, one of the administrators who intervened, said the group’s actions were “in violation of the library’s rules,” and that NYU “will engage in its long-standing processes to address the violations” in a written statement to WSN.

Beckman also said that he, along with the other administrator at the scene, intervened about 10 minutes into the reading after a student unaffiliated with the group had begun “complaining about their disruptive behavior.” Beckman told the group it was violating library rules, and that when Campus Safety officers asked for their NYU IDs, the group immediately left the library. Students are required to present identification when asked by staff or security, according to NYU Libraries’ Code of Conduct

One member of the group, offering the unconvincing explanation that the event was a piece of ‘performance art,’ was again reminded that the library’s rules prohibit creating a disturbance or behaving in a manner which interferes with normal use of the library,” Beckman wrote. “The incident did not last very long, it ended quite promptly after administrators intervened.”

The demonstrators, who wore black-and-white keffiyeh scarves, called for NYU to shut down its study abroad program in Tel Aviv, a call some students had reiterated during protests last semester. The university has repeatedly rejected calls to close the Tel Aviv program, citing that shutting it down would violate academic freedom. 

“This reading is a message of solidarity and love to friends, family and strangers in Palestine who are being massacred by the Israeli government with massive military and media support from the United States,” the group read in unison. “This reading is a message of solidarity and love to our students, colleagues and friends here at NYU whose lives and safety are put in danger by the university’s loud silence regarding the value of the lives of Palestinian peoples.” 

Bobst Library has been the location of both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli demonstrations since the start of the Israel-Hamas war. This past November, a student was detained by police after initiating a physical altercation with a female student and a visitor to NYU during a pro-Israeli sit-in at the library, during which students reported that the same person said antisemitic slurs at demonstrators. In October, members of Students for Justice in Palestine and Faculty for Justice in Palestine displayed signs reading “free Palestine” and “shut down NYU Tel Aviv” on the railing of Bobst’s atrium.

Andrew Ross, a CAS professor and member of FJP, participated in the readings and spoke with Beckman as the group dispersed. Ross declined to comment on his conversation with Beckman.

“It’s important for us to listen to the words of Palestinian writers, at a time when they are being targeted and gunned down with American weaponry,” Ross wrote to WSN.

Contact Adrianna Nehme at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Adrianna Nehme
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.
Adrita Talukder
Adrita Talukder, Editor-at-Large
Adrita Talukder is a sophomore at CAS planning to major in Comparative Literature and International Relations. Outside of the paper, she's usually photographing her friends, watching movies, or polishing her NYU French award. You can find Adrita on Instagram @adritasphotos or @adrjta.

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    Daniel s greenspanJan 27, 2024 at 7:11 am

    In a university, a library should be sacrosanct academic space where the ability of students and faculty to research and study is inviolable.