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

Over 5,000 alumni demand NYU remove police from campus, meet protesters’ demands

The group of alumni criticized President Linda Mills’ decision to involve police at two pro-Palestinian encampment protests on campus in the last few weeks.
Sidney Snider
(Sidney Snider for WSN)

More than 5,000 NYU alumni sent letters to administrators demanding that the university remove police from campus and meet the demands of the NYU Palestine Solidarity Coalition — including divestment from companies with ties to Israel and pardoning disciplinary action against students and faculty participating in pro-Palestinian demonstrations on campus. 

The letter, written by the NYU Alumni for Justice in Palestine group, accused President Linda Mills’ of allowing the “use of brutal force against” protesters at the Gaza Solidarity Encampment in Gould Plaza two weeks ago — where the New York City Police Department arrested 133 demonstrators, including students and faculty. The group also criticized NYU’s response to a second encampment set up outside the Paulson Center which was cleared by police Friday morning, leading to the arrest of 14 student protesters.

“NYU Alumni for Justice in Palestine stands in solidarity with the NYU Palestine Solidarity Coalition  and its demands as outlined in their recent letter,” an AJP representative wrote to WSN. “We share the PSC’s deep disappointment in the administration’s response to calls for divestment from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation, ending police presence on campus and protecting student activism for Palestinian rights.”

In a universitywide statement responding to the arrests at the Gould Plaza encampment, NYU said there had been “disorderly, disruptive and antagonizing behavior” at the demonstration and that protesters who appeared to be unaffiliated with the university “breached the barriers” outside the plaza, leading to “safety and security” concerns. In the May 4 letter, AJP challenged NYU’s account of the incident and said the university “grossly misrepresented” demonstrators as “violent, aggressive and unruly.” 

Multiple police officers stand outside.
(Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

AJP’s letter comes after the American Association of University Professors — along with several other groups and departmental chairs — criticized Mills’ characterization of the demonstrations, saying that “allegations of threats to student safety inside the encampment are baseless.” 

Following the Paulson Center arrests, the AAUP released a statement expressing “no confidence” in Mills’ leadership and disputing claims that the encampment posed a risk to the university community. After the majority of Gallatin full-time faculty also voted that they “have no confidence in Mills’ leadership” two weeks ago, the board of trustees and faculty representatives in the University Senate expressed support for Mills.

In December, NYU AJP — which represents more than 3,000 pro-Palestinian alumni — sent a letter to Mills and board of trustees chair Evan Chesler demanding that NYU divest from weapons manufacturers and companies tied to Israel, protect “students, faculty, and organizations advocating for Palestinian human rights” on campus and issue a public statement condemning Israel’s ongoing siege in Gaza. The letter also called on the university to shut down its Tel Aviv site and “re-evaluate” on-campus research “pertaining to war and the military-industrial complex,” particularly at the Tandon School of Engineering.

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

Update, May 7: This article has been updated with a statement from a representative of NYU Alumni for Justice in Palestine.

Contact Dharma Niles and Yezen Saadah at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Dharma Niles
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.
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]
Jason Alpert-Wisnia
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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    Amirali y. HaidriMay 12, 2024 at 2:41 pm

    I hold an M.S. degree in Chemistry from GSAS. As a senior citizen, I demand that President Linda Mills reverse all suspensions and disciplinary actions against student protesters whether pro Palestine or pro Israel. Academic freedom is not protected by Police actions. President Mills, please apologize profusely to the NYU community. The longevity of your continued employment depends on it.