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

Campus Safety clears Bobst amid pro-Palestinian demonstrations

Those inside Bobst were told to vacate the library, with some Campus Safety officers citing security concerns for the decision to clear the building.
Sidney Snider
(Sidney Snider for WSN)

A few hours after a group of around 30 pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered in the atrium of Bobst Library, placing signs reading “Hands off Rafah” and “Welcome to the Popular University” on the ground, Campus Safety officers told students to clear the library’s floors. Bobst is now open, according to NYU. 

Protesters initially relocated, with some having moved to other parts of the building and others having joined a protest outside its entrance, but later re-grouped in Bobst’s ground floor. A representative from NYU’s Palestine Solidarity Coalition, who asked to remain anonymous due to security concerns, said demonstrators would not leave the library until NYU administrators agreed to negotiate with protesters and meet their demands.

“We’ve seen over the last few weeks that NYU has committed to escalating their violence and discrimination, especially against Palestinian and Arab and Muslim students, anyone with a keffiyeh looks like a threat to them,” the representative said. “When we call this a de-occupation, we do that to reject the Zionist ideology of arbitrary walls, we don’t do that to make students afraid. NYU’s idea of safety would have us be silent; we would much rather engage student voices and welcome them into the liberated zone.”

NYU spokesperson John Beckman said those inside Bobst were erroneously told the building was closing “due to a miscommunication,” and that the library “remains open for the normal hours.”

Earlier this afternoon, a Campus Safety officer had said the entire library, which protesters renamed the “Diana Tamari Sabbagh Library Liberated Zone,” was being temporarily cleared. The protesters’ name for the library was displayed on a large sign draped from Bobst’s third floor, and references a library of the same name that was destroyed during Israel’s siege in Gaza

Multiple Campus Safety officers had previously said the library was being vacated due to security concerns, but did not specify the nature of the concern when asked. After telling those inside the library to clear the building, Campus Safety officers were not allowing NYU affiliates into Bobst. 

A pro-Palestinian protest of around 60 people that began earlier this afternoon has continued outside the library’s entrance. After the initial demonstration inside Bobst came to an end, several student protesters joined the picket outside of the library. The outside protest grew louder after the indoor demonstration first dispersed, with chants and drumbeats reverberating through Bobst’s lobby. 

(Krish Dev for WSN)

Senior Campus Safety administrator Karen Ortman was observed entering Bobst at around the same time students were asked to leave. Ortman was later seen leaving the building, and appeared to be filming protesters as they booed during her exit. 

In an earlier statement to WSN, Beckman also said the students who participated in the demonstration “will be subject to the university’s disciplinary proceedings” and said the protest had violated university rules against disrupting “academic activities or to interfere with other students’ academic work.” Beckman also said Student Affairs representatives had asked demonstrators to “stop and leave immediately,” and that they were “unwilling to comply.”

“At about 2:30 this afternoon, we are profoundly disappointed that a group of students began a loud, disruptive demonstration in NYU’s main library, which is filled with students studying for final exams,” NYU spokesperson John Beckman wrote in a statement to WSN. “We are disappointed that a group of students would be so insensitive to the rights of other students. We are working to bring the situation to a close as quickly as possible.”

The group of protesters, which was sat silently on the ground when students were told to leave the area, had previously been reading poetry aloud and chanting phrases such as “Talk to us, know our demands, we won’t leave without papers in hand” and “Where’s our money, the board knows, we won’t leave till’ you disclose.” The group also dispersed flyers titled, “All Eyes on Rafah” that called the university “complicit” in Israel’s ongoing siege in Gaza.

Protesters at the Bobst demonstration reiterated their calls for NYU to disclose and divest from any holdings in arms manufacturers and companies with ties to Israel, as well as for the university to close its site in Tel Aviv, remove police from campus and forgive disciplinary action taken against pro-Palestinian protesters. 

Update, May 10: This article has been updated with a statement from a PSC representative and additional information from an NYU spokesperson.

Contact Carmo Moniz and Dharma Niles at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Carmo Moniz
Carmo Moniz, Managing Editor
Carmo Moniz is a junior studying journalism and politics. She enjoys covering city news and dabbling in data journalism, and aspires to one day join the journalism-to-law-school pipeline. When she's not in classes or at the Washington Square News, you can find her looking for a movie to watch or embarking on random art projects. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @carmo_moniz or send tips at [email protected].
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.
Krish Dev
Krish Dev, Multimedia Editor
Krish is a first-year planning to major in Computer Science and Linguistics at CAS. In his free time, he enjoys posting photos on @krish_dev.creations, obsessing over geography, watching new films with friends, taking public transport to new places and letting Arsenal make or break his week.

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