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

Parents and guardians condemn NYPD sweep of Gould Plaza, call on Mills to resign

Almost 600 “parents, guardians and loved ones” signed a letter to President Linda Mills criticizing the university’s response to the Gaza Solidarity Encampment in Gould Plaza and calling for her to step down.
Alex Tey
The New York City Police Department arrested over 100 protesters at the Gaza Solidarity Encampment in Gould Plaza at around 8:30 p.m. Monday. (Alex Tey for WSN)

Almost 600 “parents, guardians and loved ones” signed a letter criticizing President Linda Mills for what they said was “unnecessary and extreme violence” inflicted on students and faculty after the university authorized the New York City Police Department to sweep Gould Plaza’s Gaza Solidarity Encampment. 

The letter, which also called on Mills to resign, came in response to an email to parents from Mills, Campus Safety head Fountain Walker and dean of students Rafael Rodriguez, which said there had been “disorderly, disruptive and antagonizing behavior” and reports of “intimidating chants and of antisemitic incidents” at the encampment. 

The parents’ letter challenged Mills’ account of what occurred at the encampment, and said they had not been “offered any proof” of antisemitic incidents and that NYU’s claim was “touted to justify the brutalization” of students. They added that prior to the arrests, demonstrators had been “leading the group in a Jewish prayer and Seder service.”

In a statement to WSN, university spokesperson John Beckman said NYU takes “all the views expressed by the parent community seriously.” Beckman also said Mills has received “letters expressing criticism” as well as letters that convey “positive remarks about how the situation was addressed.”

David Levine, a parent who signed the letter following the arrest of his daughter, told WSN that as a Jewish parent, he believes that the demonstration “in no way threatened Jewish students.”

“My daughter was arrested in an aggressive and brutal manner while participating in the kind of protest that NYU ostensibly encourages with what is, or at least should be, its commitment to the humanities,” Levine said in a statement to WSN. “Instead of encouraging such a commitment, however, when offered an opportunity to allow its students to express their views of a serious world crisis, the university called in the police. The gathering on campus Monday in no way threatened Jewish students. My daughter would not have been welcome in such a gathering if it had.”

NYU’s account of events has also been disputed by the university’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors, which said those inside the encampment and identified NYU protesters did not engage in any antisemitic behavior or intimidation. 

Beckman previously told WSN the university received reports of antisemitic incidents through its Bias Response Line during the encampment, including “antisemitic chants and a Jewish student who was spat on, had something thrown at them and was the object of antisemitic slurs, while holding an Israeli flag.”

The parents wrote in their letter that NYU’s choice to deploy the NYPD reflects “the hypocrisy of the university’s restriction of free speech and freedom of assembly.” 

“Democracy and freedom of speech, values that NYU supposedly upholds, were rendered obsolete in the light of recent events,” Faten Jaber, a signatory and parent of a Steinhardt student, told WSN. “Inviting the riot police to brutally arrest peaceful protesters of all backgrounds is in clear violation of students rights. NYU administration single-handedly proved that democracy is nothing but an exclusionary illusion.”

Contact Bruna Horvath at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Bruna Horvath
Bruna Horvath, News Editor
Bruna Horvath is a sophomore studying journalism and English at CAS. When she’s not a News Editor, she’s a "Gone Girl" enthusiast, a Goodreads lover, and a Barnes & Noble frequenter. You can usually find her ordering an iced mocha, telling people her name is “Bruna” not “Bruno,” or on Instagram @brunaahorvath.
Alex Tey
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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