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 gov’t passes resolution to reopen Kimmel steps

The resolution will now go to the University Senate Executive Committee, which will decide on next steps.
Matt Petres
File Photo: NYU campus safety officers guarding the Kimmel staircase on Oct. 12, 2023. (Matt Petres for WSN)

The Student Government Assembly passed a resolution to reopen the Grand Staircase in the Kimmel Center for University Life, which has been closed since October, at a meeting on Thursday. The resolution will be proposed to the University Senate for final approval on April 25.

The March 7 resolution — proposed by SGA senator at-large for Muslim women Lamisa Khan — is calling for NYU to open the Kimmel stairs, which the university said were closed last semester due to “the level of protest activity” near campus. The resolution argues that the stairs create “a sense of community” for students and that the building’s other staircases are “overcrowded,” causing a fire hazard and safety issues.

Student government chair Ryan Carney told WSN that if the proposal is approved by the University Senate Executive Committee — a group of six administrators and faculty as well as a student representative — it will either go through the University Senate’s official body or a subcommittee for further discussion.

“I’m happy that the resolution passed, especially since this is something the student body has been really asking for,” Khan said. “We’re hoping to keep pushing this forward through the administration and USenate.”

Another proposal passed by the SGA last semester, aimed at reaffirming pro-Palestinian speech on campus, was recently postponed by the USEC. At the time, the committee said the resolution was “not ready” and did not “have wide student body support.” Carney said the proposal was discussed on Thursday during a Senate Academic Affairs Committee meeting and will be revisited again.

The student government is not alone in pushing for the stairs to reopen. Last week, a group of 30 Steinhardt faculty passed a resolution calling on NYU to stop alleged “free speech violations” committed since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, saying reopening the Kimmel Center Grand Staircase would be a “good first step toward restoring free expression at NYU.” The group emailed the message to President Linda Mills, Steinhardt dean Jack Knott and faculty representatives on March 13.

Resolution author and Steinhardt professor Robert Cohen said he believed the university limited free speech when two administrators interrupted a pro-Palestinian protest at Bobst Library in January. Cohen also said the resolution was passed “almost unanimously” by his department.

“To suppress that reading and threaten disciplinary action is yet another free speech violation, which also seems embarrassingly anti-intellectual,” Cohen wrote to WSN. “The idea is that no matter how you see the tragedies of the war, the university should allow for the free expression of that debate.”

NYU spokesperson John Beckman, who was one of the two administrators who intervened in the protest, said the university “is fully committed to the principle of free expression; we respectfully but wholeheartedly dispute the resolution’s claims to the contrary.”

 “We will continue to strive — as we have continually since Oct. 7 — for our campus to be a forum for vigorous but respectful dialogue in accordance with NYU’s longstanding rules,” Beckman said. “We will remain committed to maintaining a campus climate where discrimination and harassment have no place and where our core academic mission may proceed without disruption.”

Correction, March 15: A previous version of this article incorrectly described the approval process for SGA resolutions. The mistake has been fixed and WSN regrets the error.

Contact Maisie Zipfel at [email protected].

Leave a comment
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.
Matt Petres
Matt Petres, Photo Editor
Matt Petres is a first-year studying Economics. He is from Chicago, Illinois and likes to bike and kayak. You can contact him on Instagram @matt.petres

Comments (0)

Comments that are deemed spam or hate speech by the moderators will be deleted.
All Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *