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

Faculty condemn NYU response to encampment in letters to admins

Dozens of faculty in multiple university departments and at NYU’s School of Law signed letters criticizing the university’s authorization of arrests at Monday’s Gaza Solidarity Encampment.
Matt Petres
(Matt Petres for WSN)

Over the last three days, dozens of faculty across multiple NYU departments and at the School of Law have sent letters to administrators condemning the university’s decision to authorize the arrests of protesters at the Gaza Solidarity Encampment in Gould Plaza. 

WSN obtained letters expressing support for the students and faculty arrested at the encampment from faculty in five departments — the departments of social and cultural analysis, history, sociology and Indigenous studies, as well as from the NYU Game Center. Over 30 faculty at NYU Law also sent administrators a letter saying they were “deeply troubled” by the university’s response to the encampment, and called the New York City Police Department’s intervention “a stain on the university.” 

The letters all addressed NYU president Linda Mills, with some also including Campus Safety head Fountain Walker and interim provost Georgina Dopico. University spokesperson John Beckman told WSN that NYU takes the views of its faculty “very seriously” and that it would respond to the letters. Beckman also said Mills has received other letters from those “who have appreciated that the situation was addressed.”

“NYU is going to continue what we have been doing: ensuring that academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas retain their place as the principal tenets for our scholarly community, and working hard to enable the fulfillment of our academic mission, including establishing a climate where students can live and learn free from harassment, disruption or fear,” Beckman wrote. 

Steinhardt professor Helga Tawil-Souri, a member of NYU Faculty for Justice in Palestine who attended the protest at the encampment, told WSN the majority of the letters — especially those sent by individual faculty — came from those unaffiliated with FJP or any on-campus organization. 

“There was no concerted or collective effort to do this,” Tawil-Souri said. “People are just really appalled, disgusted, shocked, surprised and betrayed by how the university responded. I haven’t seen any collective efforts on the part of departments.”

A letter signed by 30 faculty from the sociology department wrote that the arrests of students and faculty established “a worrisome precedent for the future of free speech and protest” and requested that the university “impose no further consequences” on arrested protesters. The group of faculty also endorsed the NYU chapter of the American Association of University Professors’ statement addressing the encampment and arrests, which challenged NYU’s account of the demonstration.

NYU Law faculty also called for clearer processes for authorizing police presence on campus, asking that the university “include broad community input” in future decisions. A spokesperson for the law school declined a request for comment.

In a letter to Mills from faculty and staff at the NYU Game Center — a department in the Tisch School of the Arts — representatives called on the university to “do the right thing” and “join faculty in protecting students and their right to learn, organize peacefully and express themselves politically and artistically.” In a schoolwide email on Tuesday, Tisch dean Allyson Green reiterated NYU’s response to Monday’s encampment, saying the school “will not tolerate displays of hate harassment or violence” and that a message from the university “is forthcoming.”

NYU’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese announced in a Wednesday email to students that it would make final exams optional and that absences after April 23 would not “adversely affect” their final grades due to what it called the “destabilizing impact” of the arrests on campus. 

Contact Yezen Saadah at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Yezen Saadah
Yezen Saadah, Editor-in-Chief
Yezen Saadah is a junior 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 or send tips to [email protected]
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

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