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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Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters march across Manhattan

NYU students joined hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators at Washington Square Park on Thursday criticizing heightened campus security and demanding that universities divest from pro-Israeli companies.
A+woman+wearing+black+stands+between+two+speakers+in+front+of+a+crowd+of+people+holding+signs+and+banners.
Jason Alpert-Wisnia
(Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

Around 300 pro-Palestinian protesters gathered in Washington Square Park before marching to 42nd Street on Thursday afternoon for a demonstration organized by New York City’s chapter of the Palestinian Youth Movement activist group. Speakers from NYU, Columbia University and schools in The State University of New York system called on their respective institutions to divest from Israeli-backed companies and publicly support a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war.

“We cannot pick and choose when to show up, when to say something, when to fight for an end to all this injustice,” said Amina, a member of NYU’s Students for Justice in Palestine who requested to go by their first name due to safety concerns. “We’ve been holding rallies, march-ins, teach-ins — there is no single right way to stop a genocide, to end an occupation. But we have to do everything, because in doing everything, these institutions will crumble.”

Dozens of officers from the New York City Police Department formed a line along the protest area at Washington Square Park. Following a series of speeches, officers created a barrier between the protesters and a group of counter-protesters displaying Israeli flags and shouting “Hamas supporters.” 

Two crowds of protestors holding Palestinian and Israeli flags face each other, separated by police.
(Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

The group eventually exited the park, occupying approximately two blocks of the sidewalk as they proceeded marching through Union Square and down Park Avenue, ultimately reaching the New York Public Library.

“I’ve been attending protests since Oct. 7 — this is huge,” said a student protester who asked to remain anonymous due to safety concerns. “It’s just as big as it’s ever been.” 

Students also criticized the heightened campus security and increased police presence that universities implemented since the start of the war. Demonstrators argued that institutions’ respective safety regulations undermine students’ freedom of speech and right to protest.

Since Oct. 7, NYU has added over 4,000 weekly patrol hours for Campus Safety officers and increased police presence around its Washington Square and Brooklyn campuses. The university also closed off certain entrances to key university buildings, including the Paulson Center, the Kimmel Center for University Life and Bobst Library. NYU president Linda Mills also released a report in November confirming more than 90 student conduct cases “related to current concerns.”

“They should let us exercise our freedom of speech — don’t censor students,” said another NYU student who requested to remain anonymous due to safety concerns. “Students should be free to protest in class or outside of class without being punished by the school.” 

Two children and two men hold a banner with Arabic and English written on it. Besides them a crowd carries a brown banner and Palestinian flags.
(Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

Last semester, students at NYU have repeatedly protested the university’s response to the war, having called on the university to shut down its study abroad program in Tel Aviv. Students have claimed that the site violates NYU’s Code of Ethical Conduct and Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment policies because of an Israeli law that bars foreigners who have endorsed a boycott of the country from entering. The university has repeatedly rejected calls to end its operations at the site, saying that shutting it down would violate academic freedom.

In more recent developments concerning on-campus tensions over the Israel-Hamas war, NYU suspended Steinhardt professor Tomasz Skiba, notifying him it would be looking into complaints about his “social media posts” related to the war. On Jan. 25, university spokesperson John Beckman also announced that Gallatin professor Amin Husain was suspended due to comments he made during a Dec. 5 teach-in at The New School. A group of around nine students gathered outside the Office of Equal Opportunity on Wednesday to deliver a petition calling on NYU to reinstate Husain.

A university spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Contact Dharma Niles at [email protected].

About the Contributors
Dharma Niles, Deputy News Editor
Dharma Niles is a first-year student currently studying journalism and politics at CAS, and has yet to choose between the six different minors she'd also like to pursue. You can generally find her playing NYT games, skittering around the city with a Celsius in hand or on Instagram @dharmaniles.
Jason Alpert-Wisnia, Editor-at-Large
Jason Alpert-Wisnia is a junior majoring in Photography and Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts, primarily focused on photojournalism and documentary photography. His photography ranges from coverage of professional sports, to political protests and music festivals. When he is not pounding the pavement with a camera in his hands looking for the next story, you are likely to find Jason in a used bookstore looking for rare finds or in the park reading. You can find him on Instagram @jasonalpertwisnia and contact him at [email protected].
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