We’re Resigning from WSN. Here’s Why.

We are now publicizing the grievances that led us all to this decision.

WSN Staff

We, the undersigned WSN Fall 2020 Editorial Staff, have collectively decided to resign from Washington Square News, effective immediately. This was extensively deliberated in collaboration with 43 staff editors, and it was not a decision we enjoyed making. However, we understand that continuing to work at WSN in our current circumstance would do more harm than good, and we refuse to condone what we have seen over the past three weeks.

Three weeks ago, our Editor-in-Chief was fired without warning to the rest of the staff. His termination was the result of a new editorial advisor, Dr. Kenna Griffin, who joined WSN’s staff. We are aware that she is employed by the university and that she is not a member of our publications board. Dr. Griffin’s relationship to WSN and the amount of power she held was never clarified. Though she initially claimed that she would include the managing staff in the process of defining her role, she has yet to follow through with that promise.

Since Dr. Griffin was hired, WSN has faced numerous challenges in publication and cohesion. Dr. Griffin was increasingly rude and disrespectful to the staff, despite being repeatedly reminded that her words had a negative effect on staff morale. Dr. Griffin was unnecessarily harsh, and when confronted about her behavior, would defend it by arguing that WSN’s staff is too immature to accept critique. Her feedback was often negative, even when we followed her instructions, and was almost always personal. She defended this behavior by arguing that she was unable to accomplish anything without WSN implementing her instructions. This is untrue; WSN has implemented her advice on multiple occasions.

WSN has been operating in a state of uncertainty and distress since our EIC was fired. WSN’s publications board, 50% of which is composed of NYU journalism professors, has yet to name a successor. This means that WSN has operated without an EIC for three weeks and has still been expected to perform as well — on some occasions better — than we have in the past. We cannot continue to do business as usual without a leader and when we are afraid of retribution. Dr. Griffin stated multiple times that no one else on staff would be fired, but most staff members did not believe her, as she had recently fired our EIC with no sufficient explanation.

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Operating without an EIC also means that WSN has continued to publish without editorial representation on our publications board, as the EIC is the only student member of the board from WSN’s editorial side. This has left us to trust that Dr. Griffin, who is not a member of the publications board but holds considerable influence over it, will accurately portray us to the board and will act in our best interests. However, this has proven to not be the case, as Dr. Griffin has been asked repeatedly to soften language when critique is involved and has refused each time. This made it very difficult to accept her criticism, as well as to function normally with the new factor of fear of Dr. Griffin. This led to a vicious cycle in which we could not please Dr. Griffin and so she would lash out at us, which in turn would lead us to produce poorer work which did not help.

After WSN published an article about protests related to the murder of Breonna Taylor and the Kentucky grand jury’s decision not to charge her killers, Dr. Griffin displayed an increasing disrespect to WSN’s Black staff members, leading to one staff member choosing to speak out and accuse Dr. Griffin of intolerance. Dr. Griffin took this criticism poorly — she defended herself arguing that there was no proof of her racism, and demanded to speak with a Black student before admitting guilt, which she still has not done. Dr. Griffin suggested that the Black student write an op-ed explaining her feelings about Taylor’s murder. We are not comfortable continuing to work in an environment that trivializes Black voices when they speak up and then uses them for personal gain. This was the straw that broke the collective camel’s back.

Incidents of Dr. Griffin’s behavior include but are not limited to: 

  • Belittled the entire staff, with inappropriate behavior for an editorial advisor to students in a way definitely not how a professional should speak to other young professionals.
  • Repeatedly stated that anyone offended by her words was simply being sensitive and implied that if someone is offended by her statements, they should not be a journalist.
  • Pressured an editor to reveal their “real name” after the editor disclosed their non-cisgender gender identity. This is transphobic rhetoric and behavior. 
  • Criticized Opinion article disclaimers, calling them unnecessary and incorrect. Opinion article disclaimers are necessary for legal purposes.
  • Demanded stories and content without regard to reporters’ personal safety at protests and students’ time and responsibilities beyond WSN, and demanded articles on our rest days.
  • Stated that if staff did not meet with her one-on-one individually, following the EIC’s termination, she would understand that we would not want to continue working for WSN. Did not respond to emails and other attempts to schedule meetings for weeks.
  • Our Managing Editor assumed the responsibilities of EIC and Managing Editor without the title or power, despite asking for formal recognition.
  • Refused to concede that people interviewed and photographed would want to be anonymous for safety reasons. 
  • Dismissed trigger warnings on articles on sexual assault and marked them unnecessary.
  • Mentioned inappropriate and confidential information about staff members’ personal lives.
  • Stated that racism is a matter of subjectivity.
  • Violated the WSN Constitution multiple times including several instances in which she attempted to merge the business and editorial sections of WSN.
  • An editor stood up to Dr. Griffin’s demands and refused to edit out the word “murder” from our article about Breonna Taylor’s murder at the hands of Louisville cops. Dr. Griffin demanded the Managing Editor discipline them, as she “didn’t want to have a full deal publicly.”
  • Spoke terribly about our previous EIC to every other editor immediately after he was fired and asked leading questions, presumably to find justification for firing him. 
  • Lied about events and people’s actions and characters to different editors.
  • Minimized an Opinion Editor’s role and pieces and did not include them in discussions about the Opinion section. Disclosed that she only wanted one Opinion Editor. 
  • Demanded our organization “professionalize.” Dr. Griffin messaged editors to reprimand them for profanity used in intra-staff conversations despite regularly swearing in personal calls against staff. 
  • Categorized ‘Under the Arch’, WSN’s magazine, as a money maker. Attempted to demand ‘UTA’ cater to business needs to create content, directly violating the WSN Constitution.
  • Criticized our News Desk for using emails or text interviews and NYU statements, despite that practice being part of journalism standards. 
  • Blamed WSN for NYU institutions refusing to talk to us. 
  • Corrected our use of “spokesperson” to “spokesman,” ignoring the need for gender-neutral language in reporting, mandatory for the paper and outlined in one of our guides. 
  • Boasted about improving our coverage online when she had no involvement with the articles she boasted about.

Our demands are as follows:

  1. Dr. Kenna Griffin must resign immediately.
  2. Each semester, the editorial staff must be introduced to the publications board and its members in order to ensure transparency; the capabilities and the importance of the board’s existence must be discussed.
  3. WSN should not be labeled as an “independent” news publication, as it is intertwined with the Journalism department and its very existence depends on the emotional and financial support of the university.
  4. Issue a revision of WSN’s Constitution in order to ensure that an EIC cannot be fired by the publications board or anyone else without the editorial staff’s democratic vote on the matter.
  5. All of WSN’s finances — including but not limited to money received from the university and how this money is distributed to the staff, including budget overages and shortages — must be disclosed to the entire staff and will be available to anybody upon request.
  6. Frequent interactions between senior management and desk editors, and the publications board. The board should be ready to offer feedback and advice. Management should meet with the board twice a month. Desk editors should meet with the board once a month. 
  7. WSN’s editorial advisor must have previous knowledge of NYU, NYU’s environment and WSN’s production process and operation. It is preferred for an editorial advisor to have had a connection with either WSN or NYU or both.
  8. Ensure student journalists’ safety, physically and mentally — provide students with reporting safety training and equipment. Communicate to student journalists that if they decide to cover a story, they will be provided with a media pass and personal protective equipment (PPE).
  9. Under no circumstances should WSN be left without an EIC or an interim EIC on staff. Our EIC represents us on the board and serves as a member. If we are left without an EIC, we are left without representation on the publications board.
  10. The editorial advisor’s abilities must be disclosed to all editorial staff when introduced/hired and there must be demarcated boundaries for their powers, including firing.
  11. All the editorial advisor’s decisions are subject to discussion and vote by editorial staff.
  12. The editorial advisor role needs to be filled with an active journalist to ensure familiarity with the current media field and the environment within it.
  13. The editorial advisor must be employed by WSN, not NYU’s Journalism Department, and paid with WSN’s revenue.
  14. Business or advertisement must not influence production decisions to ensure quality journalism without financial bias.
  15. Communication, including critique and feedback on platforms such as Slack from the editorial advisor needs to be individually expressed. This form of communication centers a focus on who needs the critique, rather than informing the entire staff.

WSN, at its core, is not a racist publication. We have worked hard to make WSN the safe and loving environment for staff that we know it to be. Dr. Griffin’s actions counteract WSN’s core values, and the lack of discipline on behalf of the board and the university indicate that as long as Dr. Griffin serves as WSN’s editorial advisor, they will continue to remain as intolerant as she is. 

We know that, as its staff, we have WSN’s best interests at heart, but we cannot guarantee the same about the publications board. As long as the board holds more power over WSN than its editors, we are not comfortable staying on staff.

We would be happy to return to WSN, but only if Dr. Griffin no longer serves as our editorial advisor. If she does not resign, our resignation will be permanent.

We do not want to put NYU’s community in a position in which it is not receiving the best and most frequent communications from its student publication. We are not happy about the decision we have made, and we regret not being able to provide the NYU community with the coverage it deserves. As a result, we encourage you to read and follow NYU Local, which is not affiliated with NYU in any manner. Until Dr. Griffin no longer works at NYU, we cannot trust that WSN will be the environment that we know it to be. We strongly discourage supporting or joining WSN as long as Dr. Griffin serves as its editorial advisor. 

This newspaper has been a home to all of us for years, and we love it deeply. We are choosing to leave because of how much we love it — we fear that if we do not leave, WSN will never find the incentive to improve. 

Signed, 

Abby Hofstetter, Managing Editor

Alexandria Johnson, Deputy Managing Editor

Jun Sung, Deputy Managing Editor

Ethan Zack, Deputy Managing Editor

Mandie Montes, Under the Arch Managing Editor

Finley (Anna-Dmitry) Muratova, Under the Arch Managing Editor

Deborah Alalade, Creative Director

Charlie Dodge, Creative Director

Alexandra Chan, Multimedia Editor

Bella Gil, Culture Editor

Sasha Cohen, Arts Editor

Kaylee DeFreitas, Arts Editor

Emily Dai, Opinion Editor

Helen Wajda, Opinion Editor 

Kevin Ryu, Sports Editor

Caitlin Hsu, Under the Arch Senior Editor

Nicole Chiarella, Copy Chief

Kimberly Rice, Copy Chief

Vanessa Handy, Social Media Editor

Roshni Raj, Deputy News Editor

Aarushi Sharma, Deputy News Editor

Dana Sun, Deputy Culture Editor

Divya Nelakonda, Beauty & Style Editor

Paul Kim, Dining Editor

Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer, Film Editor

Ana Cubas, Music Editor

Bianca de Ayala, Deputy Opinion Editor

Kevin Kurian, Deputy Opinion Editor

Asha Ramachandran, Deputy Opinion Editor 

Sammy Tavassoli, Deputy Under the Arch Editor

Vaishnavi Naidu, Deputy Under the Arch Editor

Li-Chun Pan, Photo Editor 

Leo Sheingate, Video Editor

Manasa Gudavalli, Deputy Multimedia Editor

Talia Rose Barton, Deputy Photo Editor

Alex Tran, Deputy Video Editor

Destine Manson, Deputy Copy Chief

Katrina Morgan, Deputy Social Media Editor

Jake Capriotti, Under the Arch Multimedia Editor

Chelsea Li, Under the Arch Deputy Multimedia Editor

Celia Tewey, Under The Arch Exposures Editor

Jessica Fiorella, Under the Arch Voices Editor

Ashley Wu, Editor-at-Large

This article was last updated on Monday, Sept. 28, 2020, 2:13 p.m.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 28, 2020 e-print edition. Email WSN’s Staff at [email protected]

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141 COMMENTS

    • “(Dr. Griffin)… implied that if someone is offended by her statements, they should not be a journalist.”

      Sorry kids, she’s right. You do have to work protests and no, it’s not always safe. You will be called into work on your “rest” days and, in the real world, newspapers do not put “trigger warnings” on sexual assault stories. It sounds like this advisor was giving you the best possible training for actual work in print journalism but you were too stupid to see it.

      Simply put, if you truly want to work in news, then grow the f*ck up.

      • been in journalism since the early 90s what a sack of bullshit…these snowflakes are going to get shot if they act like this out in the real world…damn, how dumb and out of it are you all!! have fun finding work

        • I was in journalism for a decade and endured countless incidents of sexual harassment, emotional manipulation and sometimes threat of physical violence from some of my editors. It was a toxic environment, so much so that when I stood up to it, I once was fired. You thinking it’s okay to endure abuse just because “that’s the way it is in newsrooms” doesn’t mean others shouldn’t stand up and stop it. I wish someone had stood up with me when I spoke out, then maybe I would still be a reporter, which was a job I loved but no longer felt welcome doing. You want to call these kids snowflakes, but rather I think they’re asking to be treated fairly and not taking any lip service from the “adults” in the room.

  1. NYU ’16 alum here – you’ve got support from alumni out here!! Proud of y’all for standing up against this racist and abusive environment. I saw it time and time again during my time at NYU and I’m glad to see a group of students doing something about it.

    • If you think that “adulthood” means “accepting mistreatment and surrendering dignity,” then wow, I hope you’re okay :/

      • so much this – this has been the American business standard for decades – the people who not only accept the mistreatment and surrender dignity then in turn mistreat others and demand they surrender dignity and get promoted. I’ve seen it over an over again in my 3 decades as an “adult”. Makes me sick. Good for these students. Good for this generation.

  2. I hope your demands are met and some of you can come back to the publication after this incident. This is totally unfair and her behavior is beyond unprofessional. So sorry it got to this point.

  3. what a ridiculous and toxic environment these student journalists were subjected to. it must have been bad if the entire staff resigned. i hope NYU does something about this and fires griffin

  4. NYU ’20 Alum. I’ve only been more ashamed I went to NYU since graduating, because of how controlling and vile the administration is. Proud of the WSN Staff for resigning. Dr. Griffin cannot continue to disgrace the university and student body that she works for.

  5. This is an incredible move. I admire you all for standing firm as an editorial board. Griffin needs to step down immediately, and really ought to face greater repercussions than just her forced resignation. Her role as both a leader and an educator makes her behavior especially disgraceful; I am so sorry you were subjected to such harmful treatment, and I hope NYU’s administration will do something substantive about this.

  6. I’m so proud of you all, and I’m so deeply inspired. I wish I had the courage to stand up to abuse from an adviser at my own college newspaper. This issue is unbelievably wide spread, and it is so deeply traumatizing. Thank you for your organizing, commitment, and strength. Everyone deserves a safe and open workplace.

  7. As a former NYU Local editor I salute the entire team for standing up to someone who could at best be described as vindictive and racist. WSN has often been put in the unfortunate position of having to tow the university’s party line and I’m glad to see a new generation stand up to editorial interference.

    • Jk Rowling? You transphobic twat. This hate speech doesn’t belong on the comments section of WSN.

      I am resigning from readership and demanding you be blocked from commenting ever again.

      • Eura, That’s pretty funny. As a trans person, I’m really tired of cis people virtue signaling any time Harry Potter gets mentioned. Had me chuckle (At least I’m pretty sure you’re being sardonic)

    • Do you think that being treated like garbage and taking it are mandatory in the “real world”? I’m sorry you’d rather let people take advantage of you than stand up for yourself :/ Hope things get better! Good luck in your world!

    • Reality check: in the “real world” people stand up for and advocate for themselves. Nursing is one of the most “real world” jobs there is, and Nurses have a union. As do construction workers and many other jobs society needs. As an RN and NYU Nursing Alum, I applaud these NYU undergrads for advocating for themselves. Sounds like you could learn a lot from them.

  8. Proud of the editorial staff for stepping down for what they believe in and what is right for journalism. This advisor needs to resign immediately, and NYU needs to meet the rest of the demands.

  9. Journalists, look into Dr. Griffin’s background. This is not the first time she has had a negative influence on an entire department or used her position and influence as weapons in the student workplace. She doesn’t belong in higher education or anywhere she can abuse those with less power. Look into her past positions and interview past students. Dr. Griffin is a lawsuit waiting to happen–and a good opportunity to exercise your journalistic scrutiny.

  10. There’s a lot of context missing here. Several of these grievances are basic journalistic tenets, like naming subjects in photos that are taken in public places, or reserving the word “murder” to be used legally vs. subjectively. But put that aside, the letter generally indicts Griffin as trans-phobic and racist – those are the kind of charges that are career-enders in the world of academia – but it doesn’t provide specific related evidence. Nor does it reference any efforts made to mediate grievances prior to calls for Griffin’s resignation. I’ll be interested to hear the whole story. It’s sad to see this paper close shop this way.

    • Agreed. The basic tenet of journalism is that every story has two sides. This editorial is a one-sided attack. Sloppy journalism at best.

      • You might hold the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, the three major networks, MSNBC and CNN of that. And New York-1, and I don’t have the time to list all the print and broadcast media who have only presented one side — their opinions instead of the news. Sloppy journalism at best.

        • Honestly, you’ll probably fit in better being a sloppy, one-sided journalist. If you do thorough research and attempt to convey multiple-sides, you’ll never find a job, lol

  11. Ooooh, “transphobic,” by which we mean not celebrating the idea that someone can change their sex through cosmetic surgery? LOL

    • Yes, thinking trans peoples’ genders aren’t credible is transphobic. That’s kinda, you know, the main thing? Sorry, transphobia is less socially acceptable than it was five years age? Wow, that must be hard for you. Sucks to suck.

      • There are no “genders,” except in languages. People have sexes. People who claim to have a “gender” that conflicts with the plumbing that God or nature gave them, are psychotic and/or opportunistic. Calling someone you hate “transphobic,” as a prelude to destroy his life, is vicious, as is supporting such delusions and/or opportunism.

  12. I find it extremely childish and unprofessional that the entire staff chooses to resign because they can’t take criticism from a highly sought-after adviser who has a long and impressive history of leading student newspapers. Grow up. Learn how to take criticism. Stop blaming your mistakes on someone else. Dr. Griffin is by no means ‘racist’ or ‘transphobic.’ In fact, she has done extensive research in the field of journalism and advocates for all student journalists. The biggest mistake this staff made was publishing libelous information that may very well lead to a lawsuit. I hope Dr. Griffin does pursue a lawsuit because your childish editorial is full of false information. Chalk that up as a learning experience. You CAN and SHOULD be sued for libel.

    • Can you please define “criticism”? In a productive setting, it’s not a synonym for “mistreatment” or “verbal abuse”. I feel sorry for you if you feel that attacking people is most productive way to encourage improvement. Does your boss yell at you? Do you need to talk to someone? :/

    • I’m an alum. Tentatively, I agree with you. I don’t even know who Kenna Griffin is, however, her name didn’t come up in the NYU search, and I don’t do Twitter. I wasn’t impressed with the writing of this complaint. Nothing is clear to me at all. It needs a lot of work. Wow. NYU.

  13. ^^ This has to be Kenna. There is no way anyone is defending this. Also, this sounds just like her Twitter. How sad. pathetic. I hope she is fired. and blocked from this webpage.

    • Actually, it’s not Kenna. It’s a grown ass adult who can see the difference between whining and real journalism. I’m a journalist and all I see is a bunch of whiny babies who need to obviously learn more about how to be professionals.

      • Funny, the adults I know generally don’t refer to themselves as “grown ass adults” and to others as “whiny babies” for not tolerating workplace abuse. Your desire to defend this woman Kenna Griffin, who has a long and documented record of workplace failures (seriously: Google her) is odd.

  14. I’m a 76 years old guy in California, graduate of Montana State U. (College at the time). Wouldn’t usually have much interest in a student newspaper, but I have to say, you guys got some guts. Your grievances sound pretty solid, which is about as much as I can venture without further research. Anyway I seriously admire being willing to quit as perhaps an ultimate form of protest. There were a few times in my life when I should have done something equivalent. The best I could muster was to switch jobs within the company. Whatever your outcome, you’ve stood up for your beliefs and perceptions. We’re gonna need a lot more like you.

  15. I am a 50 year old mom, and I want to say I support the decision the staffs made. Independent student journalism is very important. Dr. Griffin seems to lack understanding and she had similar complaints in her early career.

    • Not even in her early career: in the last few positions she has held. It’s a pattern and the only way this type of workplace behavior can be checked is this through unified protest and exposure by students. Otherwise, the administration will find ways to pass this type of ‘educator’ on to the next institution, much as churches have passed abusive priests/ministers from parish to parish so as to avoid publicity and lawsuits.

  16. Bravo to this entire staff for making such a brave and necessary move. Together you have leverage against Dr. Griffin, who seems like a raging narcissist. I’ve worked with people like that before and I can’t explain how empowering it is to see an entire staff stand up against such toxicity. I have no personal involvement with NYU by the way, so feel confident that your message is spreading farther than campus.

    And to Dr. Griffin: I’m sure you’ve been “that” person your entire career. How does it feel to have all of that caught up with you? Seeing the look on your face when you read this posting would be priceless. Resign 🙂

  17. young people are so easily manipulated by the big corporations and the corporate media they fund and control…this BLM stuff is all corporate propaganda…
    your little student newspaper was probably nothing but anti-white corporate propaganda anyway…good riddance to it and to you…

      • So original. Not lol. Minus “ok boomer” endowment checks enriching N.Y.U. circa 1990 onwards, University reverting to “commuter school” status.

        • Aww, can’t read sweetie? His username is literally rapping boomer…

          Also I seriously doubt this troll is contributing meaningfully to NYU in any way. They’re rich off the backs of student debt, probably yours too. Back to your Zoom job!

          • “Sweetie” happily living privileged life (zoom job? 😆), not cleaning people’s 💩.😄

  18. lmao im an engineer working in the real competitive cut throat world, and these snowflakes are “resigning” over feelings.

    and it’s not like anyone reads wsn except for the few who works for it lol.

    look at the bunch of snowflakes “nyu journalism” alumni defending this crap.

    no wonder nyu reputation is going down faster than a boeing max.

    • Reductive, childish piffle.

      Syntax is your friend, KG, google it.

      Had you any appreciation for journalists of integrity or availed yourself to some of their work you might grasp how childish this response reads.

      Good luck in the “real competitive cut throat world”, Engineer.

      –Choo! Choo!

    • “im an engineer working in the real competitive cut throat world, and these snowflakes are “resigning” over feelings.”

      I’m a Critical Care RN who works in the ICU which is about as real as it gets – we don’t sit on our cushy asses all day like engineers do, and we can grasp basic spelling and syntax too – and I applaud these students.

      “and it’s not like anyone reads wsn except for the few who works for it lol.”

      Aww but you’re reading it right now, aren’t you? So do you work for them KG or just bored at your engineering job surrounded by other losers with no interpersonal skills?

        • No need to pretend KG. Tell you what – when you get hit by a car, get cancer, or have a heart attack from sitting on your ass all day (aka your cutthroat real world where you’re sheltered af lol) go running to one of your little Asperger’s engineering friends, they’ll help you out 😉

  19. I was WSN’s copy chief in ’98-’99 and still work in journalism. The behavior you describe from Dr. Griffin is appalling, and not good journalistic practice in any respect. I’m proud to support WSN’s staff in speaking out and walking out. Solidarity!

  20. “If she does not resign, our resignation will be permanent.”

    Hahahaha. Kids, I’m afraid that’s not how resignations work. And, by the way, one doesn’t quit and THEN turn in a list of “demands.” Oh well, best of luck in your future careers. I think you’re going to have some rude awakenings.

    • Lol you half-wit – this isn’t a job, these kids write for FREE for their college paper. Without them, there is no paper, and then the school makes no $$$ off of the ads. Since NYU exists to earn a profit, you think they might care their entire staff just quit.

      • Well, I don’t think YOU are a “half-wit,” so why don’t you tell us the difference between resigning from a paying versus a non-paying position? You think you get to claim that you can just come on back to work if you feel like it? Too bad, so sad.

        • Omg – you must be clinically retarded.
          This isn’t a job. It’s not even an internship. They don’t even get school credit for it.

          It’s an extracurricular activity they VOLUNTEER to do. Yes, they can quit and come back next term. Just like you can be on the chess club one semester, not come back the next semester, and then return next year.

          Most college students have actual jobs such as federal work-study, internships, or part-time jobs outside of school….why volunteer to write for someone for free when you could spend that time actually earning $ or enjoying your life?

          • “OMG”? “Clinically retarded”? Gracious! How old are you? You’re not sounding very, well, grown up, are you?

            At any rate, the fact that you keep claiming that I said these kids held “jobs” at this college rag shows that, at minimum, you’re not such a sharp reader. Best of luck to you, too, in the real world when/if you graduate.

          • Poor little halfwit can’t read for shit. Yes, you claimed this is a “non-paying job” it’s written right there…scroll up.

            How old am I? Well I’m a working health professional and I can tell you clinical retardation is actually a formal medical diagnosis there’s an ICD code for, shows how much you know. Most of them can’t help it though, you literally choose to be this stupid. Tie your tubes Pollyanna, we’re tired of our tax dollars supporting your kind.

  21. When I was an editor of the WSN in the late 1970’s, there was no faculty adviser or committee, as far as I recall. As I do not know enough of the specifics about your resignation to determine who is right or wrong here, I nonetheless understand that your grievances must be very strong for you to take this step. Most of all, I am sorry that the WSN is no longer the independent student voice that I believe it was in my day.

  22. NYU ’07 alum here. Glad to see you all standing up for what’s right and I hope it works out. For those of us out here wanting to help or lend our support in a more concrete way it would be great to know who we can write to, etc.

  23. Who hired Dr. Griffin? Who fired her predecessor? Are these people anonymous? I thought that was against the paper’s editorial policy

    • +1: It’s hard to tell from this (or from the NYTimes article) what offices at NYU made these decisions, and who we should be pressuring over this.

  24. Not a very independent student newspaper for an “independent student paper”. Isn’t the EIC of a student newspaper often selected by the student journalists?

    And what student newspaper has 40 editors? You’re not putting out on the Washington Post here.

    • Did you even read the piece? One of their demands specifically asks to not be labeled as independent anymore because they acknowledge that they are intertwined with the University.

  25. CAS ’12 alum, deeply proud of the entire WSN staff. Thank you for approaching your work with honesty, integrity and rationale, and for never relenting your dignity in the face of a dangerous supervisor. I cannot wait to support your careers as journalists.

  26. How is it brave to quit in this instance? It’s not like this is a career job or anything. Make your grievances known, sure. Quit en masse? Seems a bit immature and extreme. Seems like, for the most part, she was trying to help PREPARE you for work at a real newspaper. It’s a rough world in todays newsrooms. Make your opinion known, listen to the other side, agree or disagree as necessary. Don’t just BAIL!

    • Hey Jared, how would you like a job where you can work for FREE and get treated poorly? Sounds awesome right?

      1) why would anyone choose to write for free and get treated like crap by this loon when they could get actual experience at internships in communications and media where they are treated well?

      2) Most of these students aren’t looking to work in journalism – it’s an extracurricular. It’s a hobby. I wrote for the WSN back in 2010-2014 and I was a science major who went into medicine. I wrote for the paper as a side hobby and had internships and jobs too. It’s not that serious, relax.

    • Jared, your impression of “today’s” newsrooms sounds pretty old-fashioned to me. Real newsrooms don’t look like the Daily Bugle with J. Jonah Jameson growling at everyone around his cigar. In most cases, editors and management do their best to work together, and management leaves it up to editors to edit, without looking over their shoulders. Harsh criticism and abrupt firings are highly unusual. Antiquated views about race and gender are, thankfully, being phased out. And when management does behave badly, staff unionize and protest en masse, exactly as the WSN’s staff have done. It sounds like they have a better idea of how real newsrooms operate than their so-called adviser does.

  27. Kenna was my boss and professor at Oklahoma City University from 2017-2019. She belittled me and my coworkers/classmates and made life a living hell. I quit for the same reason you all quit, and though I’m disgusted and disappointed to hear that her treachery is uncannily consistent, I feel validated. For once.

    I feel validated in that my experience was worth sharing, worth being heard, and worth being acted upon. Thank you for your bravery and honesty, WSN staff.

    • The big difference, Former Student, is that you stuck it out. You dealt with an uncomfortable and highly irritating situation to possibly learn something, practice your craft, grow a thick skin, and continue progressing your career having learned to push through obsticles in a world you can’t control. That’s what successful people have to do their entire lives.

      To suffer emotional pain and dissapointment is an unfortunate part of life. You don’t always have to accept it, but you don’t have to let it stop you in your tracks either, because you insist above all else that everyone treat you with kid gloves.

      • I’m so sorry that your circumstances have normalized trauma for you in this way. There’s a crucial distinction to be drawn between disappointment and harm. Everyone endures disappointment. No one should be harmed by people in a position of authority.

        Former Student said “I quit for the same reason you all quit,” so your narrative of “stuck it out” isn’t even correct. You’re valorizing putting up with mistreatment, to someone who escaped it. Please consider a more compassionate approach that holds people in power accountable for how they use that power, rather than treating abuse of power like some inevitable force of nature that must be endured and excused.

    • Thank you for speaking up about this woman’s behavior in other university advisory settings! It is not easy to speak truth, and here it sheds a necessary and revealing light on the ongoing behavior of a seemingly toxic professor!

      Reading all of the news and the piece here – where all but 4 of over 40 students sign on in support of each other’s experiences with this woman – makes me believe that NYU needs to step in and support its students if the publication board will not. Or NYU needs to at least state that, independent or not, they stand for journalistic standards that are clearly not being displayed by this woman. And former students like yourself are crucial in demonstrating that a history of bad behavior by advisors can and does have lasting impacts and should not be brushed off as a disagreement between the staff and the advisor.

      The official NYU statement seems to imply that there is no power differential between this woman (allowed to make profoundly damaging decisions from half way across the country) and the student body that operates the paper within the context of a major city in the throes of covering news of both viral pandemic and social upheaval. This is untrue, and the abuses of power enabled by an advisor’s control of a given situation with a student in a university setting cannot be underestimated. It is a university’s responsibility to ensure that their students lives and learning are not being damaged by professors on a power trip.

      If the student staff that resigned read these comments, know that many understand your concerns and stand with you. This woman should be removed from student advising and definitely removed from advising the WSN. And universities need to take greater care in establishing means through which students can express concern and gain assistance when confronted with an advisor whose mandate seems to be tearing students down instead of building them up.

  28. I’m a 2016 Alum (and former WSN Assistant Managing Editor) and I just wanted to commend you all on your courage in standing up for what you believe. It really sucks that your advisor wasn’t someone who had your back—in my time our advisor was one of the paper’s few friends—but the good news is that you clearly don’t need someone telling you what the right decisions are. Keep it up!

    And to Dr. Griffin, with all due respect:
    I would be deeply embarrassed if I were someone who not only held an advanced degree in communications but also had made a living from the written fucking word and somehow still didn’t believe that words were enormously impactful. Thank God that doesn’t describe me!

  29. Aww. Poor little Snowflakes. Bless their ignorant hearts. They done know that they are working in the world of big boys & girls (aka, “Adult”). Maybe they really don’t that, as worker bees, their demands aren’t appropriate in this Adult world. Their arrogance & delusions of grandeur only prove that these fragile souls are not ready to leave their safe spaces.

    I do, however, appreciate such laughable read. So, thanks for that.

  30. Totally support the staff. Adults saying they “need to grow up”- maybe you should take a look at yourselves, the world you’re living in, and decide whether you want to continue to live in a world which thinks less of some people. A world which believes being harsh means being an adult. To me, I see students fighting for a more empathetic space. It has to start somewhere. If journalistic practices say that everyone’s names and pictures should be revealed, that doesn’t mean we have to go on following that. Yes, issues of fabrication do come up, but are we not also humans who need to prioitise the safety and well-being of each other before anything else? There needs to be some other solution rather than putting students in danger. The word murder should be used. At this point it is not about legality, but about letting people get away with things because of their race. It’s impossible not to see that that not using this words negates what really happens in so many cases. Neutrality has always meant supporting racist white people, and it continues to enable them. Also, you can’t verbally abuse someone under the garb of criticism. That’s suggest a classic thing to say. If so many students find something wrong, maybe take a hard look at yourself and think about the kind of person you want to be in this world. The person making it a harsher place for everyone, or the person trying to help make it better. If your experience of the world has been harsh and “cut-throat” why not help make it better for the next generation, instead of standing by how things have always been done and watching more people suffer.

    • Exactly! It’s so sad to see so many adults arguing that horrible workplace conditions are normal and part of being a professional/adult. I can’t imagine what their workplaces must look like for them to be so indifferent towards such disrespect…

  31. The English in this article is horrible. In parts, it’s illiterate. What, for example, does this mean?

    “She defended this behavior by arguing that she was unable to accomplish anything without WSN implementing her instructions. This is untrue; WSN has implemented her advice on multiple occasions.”

    This is gibberish

    • It makes perfect sense. It is saying that KG argued that WSN would not implement any of her advice and, therefore, she was unable to accomplish anything.

  32. Huzzah to the four that stayed. The peer pressure must have been incredible. Quitting is not courageous, especially when it’s this inconsequential.

  33. While I applaud your courage I will say your boss was right about the use of the word “murder”. No matter what you all personally think or how you feel, you cannot self-convict someone in print without a legal conviction. That would get you abd your paper in a lot of trouble. As of today, Breanna Taylor was “shot” by police, not “murdered” by police, and I’m sorry but that is something you just need to accept if you’re going to have responsible reporting.

  34. The moral of the story is: don’t hire people fresh from Oklahoma to run a New York City organization, and if you do, then actually send them to New York City for a bit before starting the job!

  35. To Dr. Griffin.

    You are correct to demand excellence and objectivity from this group of students. I use that term lightly since they apparently already know everything and feel the need to teach YOU something.

    But look around you! Look at these comments! It would appear the battle is already lost. They demand their flavor du jour of subjectivity and mediocrity.

    The solution? GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT. Exit stage left. ultimately, that would be the best punishment for this rebel group of misfits. A life of willful ignorance. Best of luck to you!

    Go on strike

  36. Stop being cry babies. u guys are lucky to go to a prestiegous school 🙄. Just replace yall lmao. White privellege is being able to quit without reprecussions.

      • Oops, you gave away that you’re talking to yourself by spelling the word “privileged” wrong 2x the same way, hahaha – no wonder you couldn’t get into this “prestiegous” (sic) school, your 3rd-grade spelling skills put you in the reject pile.

        “Just replace yall” – with who? They write for FREE, they’re not compensated. Why volunteer in a poor environment? I suppose you could do it, with your elementary-level writing abilities? Good luck in community college (if you can get in).

  37. As a former editor of the Columbia Daily Spectator, I can tell you that “Spec” (as well as “The Crimson” an the Yalie Daily, as far as I know) do not suffer under the thumb of an advisor–even worse, a hired hand not on the faculty or in the administration, although that would hardly be an improvement. A college newspaper should enjoy complete editorial freedom. Its function, an important one, goes well beyond publishing puff pieces about campus events, or the “news” that Professor So and So has just won a big prize for his research into widgets. The paper does have an informative function ,but tilting too much in that direction risks your ending up as a flack for the university, where instead you should be known for publishing hard-htting, deeply researched stories of real consequence. Keep up the good work.

  38. I’m left wondering what it is the WSN volunteer staff really want. You describe an abusive work environment but fail to provide many concrete examples, and even those few concrete examples provided could be left to interpretation. I’m reminded of when the author C.M. Machado accused Junot Diaz of publicly belittling her for 20 straight minutes, but when the recording of that encounter surfaced, most people did not consider that encounter as any sort of verbal attack, and instead an overreaction or misremembering on CM Machado’s part, which discredited her. Similarly, while your colleagues may have felt attacked by KG, it’s very possible she did not intend her comments in that way. I know it’s trendy to say that intent doesn’t matter—that only impact matters—but that is a bromide which does’t hold true in any professional or personal relationship I’ve experienced. Of course intentions matter—we often start with good intentions, sometimes delivered in a messy way, and we become better when people take the time to be in relationship with us and help us walk through why our impact may have missed the mark. That’s how learning works. Why is that not a worthy undertaking here, or are we assuming everyone in this country, built on white supremacy and various other oppressions and exploitations, is going to magically unlearn their socialization and in their spirit have some type of psychic breakthrough wherein they unlearn their biases, prejudices and ignorance because people on Twitter (only 22% of Americans are on Twitter, btw) or niche corners of the internet such as this, proclaimed loudly that racism is bad? What’s the plan for the people, such as KG, who could benefit from some patience-testing yet important explainers on why their beliefs and actions, when considered from another’s POV, might be ignorant and harmful? That group includes most people in this country as well as many BIPOC and cash-poor people. So is the outrage for them too, or only to rake select white people in our own social milieu over the coals? The overall culture’s framing of white people as racist perpetrators and BIPOC as constant victims is actually damaging to creating a conception of all groups as fully human and capable of both triumphs and harms, as the scholar Eve Tuck has elaborated. Why demand abolition of the carceral state in one place and forgo the opportunity to hold people who have acted harmfully accountable in a productive, tough-loving (yes, loving) way? Was any of that attempted or was it just straight to grandstanding and public call outs? Based on the absence of reader comments on virtually any other story on WSN, I’m guessing people will now be familiar with this paper for the staff drama, not the quality of the journalism, not the thoughtful insights of its op-eds, not the intellectually challenging yet worthwhile editorial decisions. And that is a huge loss for the project of independent journalism and world class education which US higher ed strives for. In other words, you’re not publishing anything that a sliver of 20 yr olds who pay rapt attention to politically edgy social media, finds relevant to their lives. So again, I’m asking, what does the WSN staff really want and who or what are you doing this for? The feelings of your colleagues mentioned above are indeed important, and I think it’s admirable the staff is standing in solidarity with those who have not been treated well. But your model for accountability isn’t a productive, sustainable, or admirable one.

    Was there a mediation process followed after those incidents, to try to create understanding between the staff and KG? Were other NYU faculty/staff called in to mediate or attempt to address the situation? Why are the WSN staff undergoing mass resignation, when that is antithetical to the just and peaceful society I’m assuming most of you want to create through your public work and private lives? To create a just society where our common humanity is respected, we acknowledge each other’s flaws and stay in community with one another, offering support, loving accountability, respect and boundaries, each to our own capacity. When all options have been exhausted, leave, by all means. But was any attempt made at repairing relations between staff and KG, before the mass resignation? You all imply the culture at NYU is different from where KG comes from—so model that culture of accountability, respect, communication non-punitive-ness. Do that hard work. I promise you the world you’re looking to create won’t come without it. Genuine questions. Just trying to take you all as seriously as you take yourselves.

  39. I’m sorry to those in the comments that have become so accustomed to disrespectful and intolerant workplace environments that they feel it is both the norm and something one must simply put up with without word. Sad to see.

  40. Couple things:
    First, ‘if’ all of these accusations are true, NYU should certainly remove this person from such an influential role; however, everyone is entitled to due process.
    Second, I do find it concerning that the Editorial Board would take this measure prior to any consultation (no mention made) with the Publication Board. This is akin to railroading the University – as a result, they cannot/will not “surrender” to your terms.

    I think you’re all about to learn a 2 valuable lessons…
    1) just because you want it YOUR way, does not mean you’re going to get it.
    2) do you think a News Organization will be swayed to “hire” you, as a result of this? I think NOT!

    This is a very immature approach to resolving your concerns.

  41. Buh Bye…. Opens up spots for real journalism students. If you can’t deal with Dr. Kenna Griffin, you’re not going to make it in journalism. You’ll never survive the abuse you get when you probe the prower structures of the elite and ruling class. You all have a career somewhere, but journalism isn’t it. Maybe flower arranging?

  42. All of the comments from personality-disordered adults throwing tantrums in the comments calling college students with 2x their smarts “snowflakes” and talking about the “real world” are full of shit. I guess your idea of adulting is letting yourself get bullied by your boss – how pathetic. Do you think academics and higher education professionals like Kenna Griffin live in the real world? No, they work for academia. In the real world, there are actually consequences to your behavior. I’m 37 and I guarantee if my boss exhibited such abusive behavior that 43 of my colleagues quit the same day, my boss would be held accountable, probably fired. Good for these college students standing up for themselves. I would personally be more likely to hire someone if I saw their name on this list.

  43. As soon as I hear someone use the term “snowflake” I generally characterize that person as a bitter failure who blames other’s for their personal shortcomings. My knowledge of this story came by way of the NYT, my interest was piqued so I made my way here. Prior to leaving a comment I looked up some of the articles and it is clearly a good student newspaper comprised of bright Ivy League kids. I am the father of someone who is roughly their age who is away at a non Ivy League school. I get why they quit, my daughter had a coach growing up who had malicious tendencies – part of me wanted her to tough it out but what does that do, groom a woman to take abuse or develop the means and skills to deal with toxic people in the future. So part of me applauds these kids for leaving what they perceived as a toxic and possibly a dangerous environment.

    The thing is the students kind of tipped their hand with the dispute over the use of the term “murder” to report on the Breonna Taylor’s death (which was abhorrent). Until someone is charged and convicted, it does not get described in the news as murder.

    I imagine in the real world HR would have stepped in at some point and reporters wouldn’t be able to quit en masse because of financial responsibilities. Looking at their demands, many are reasonable while others indicate a sense of privilege which is to be expected given the makeup of the institution that comprises the newspaper. Ultimately though, I think this is reflective of a generation who have grown up in a world where they are used to having their own platforms by way of blogs and social media, have no reference to a time when local papers were an institution and comprised of more than the skeleton crews they have today, and broadcast television when they had news divisions that were independent of the entertainment divisions. Given that environment, I can’t entirely fault them. Information Age, a most ironic misnomer.

  44. I agree with George above – and also, that Kenna and all the people who use the term ‘snowflake’ should all be given the Ludovico rehabilitation treatment from A Clockwork Orange. Call it ‘Sensitivity Training’ and make sure to use that term for it. Perfect.

  45. I can’t defend most of what Ms. Griffin does here, but really – you want “trigger warnings” on articles about sexual assault?

    Sexual assault is a traumatic experience, and I feel for anyone who has experienced it. But part of becoming an adult is learning to deal with troubling experiences and the emotions they cause. You can’t learn how to handle negative emotions by hiding from them.

    Newspaper articles in the real world don’t have trigger warnings on any topic. Are you trying to learn how to live in the real world, or are you not?

    Are you adults, or are you not?

    • “Newspaper articles in the real world don’t have trigger warnings on any topic.”

      Ummm….they do though? Have you read a newspaper?

      Also, as an American male, you are sheltered af. Your news media don’t cover many of the atrocities covered by your own government, like in the detention centers where your government is mistreating Central American children, because White Americans/Trumpster are generally too fragile to handle this sort of reality. The rest of the world sees it though.

        • Wait so you admit your tax dollars pay for innocent children to be put in cages, but then deny there are atrocities? Yeah you sound like a sociopath. An illiterate one too. Too bad you’re un-caged.

  46. Dear WSN Editors,
    Perhaps it’s not too late to reorganize. I only have the vantage point of reading this piece & the NYT article, however, it seems to me you had the position of power.
    It appears Griffin was advising via long distance. Did you consider hanging up/turning her off during these unpleasant sessions Of embarrassment and berating? I think it would have shown great leadership if you’d nominated one amongst you as the interim EIC to attend board meeting for student representation at the very least. Better still, I’d guess you all have an idea of the top 3 contenders for the spot. Why not raise your hand and ask for the job or nominate the person you’d best like to work for at WSN?
    This type of work is resume building. I’m lucky, most of the moves I made as a young adult are now landfill, your declarations will live forever on the internet. Are you sure you want your names to live on in this type of infamy? Solidarity is a powerful thing—but, quitting together is not as meaningful as staying to fight together.
    I feel sad for your readers who counted on you for the news. And the businesses who counted on you for traffic to their sites and shops. And the community that counted WSN as a cornerstone.
    Consider going back to work, working together, and building your portfolios with great leadership, writing, and problem solving examples for the very exciting world that awaits you.

    • Hmm and she’s had 2 weeks to provide her side of the story, but she won’t. She’s all over Twitter talking about how much halloween candy she gobbles up though, and other hard-hitting news.

  47. As an NYU alumna and former WSN editor, I could not be more disgusted by the behavior that’s described here, and I’m in total support of the editorial staff’s collective resignation. As a student at NYU, and in the 15 years since graduating, I have been appalled by the University’s repeated decisions to undervalue students’ emotional and intellectual wellbeing. This seems to me another unfortunate example. I hope this is a wake-up call to NYU to take its students’ legitimate concerns seriously.

  48. NYU students are the epitomy of privilege. And it shows in their arrogance.
    I would suggest defunding this center of extreme privilege from tax payers infusions.

  49. NYU students continue to act like babies and continues to be the laughing stock of our country. Some things never change. Why don’t you take over Kimmel like your ancestors did with Take Back NYU in 2009 when I was there?

    Some day, I hope we have a student body that is willing to discuss issues, instead of breaking down and throwing tempter tantrums like toddlers. But I guess this is the cost of only letting in trust fund kids who never had to develop a thick skin or overcome real adversity.

  50. I feel a great deal of admiration and awe at the clarity and collective power of this staff’s statement! As a former journalist, I concur with an earlier poster that abuse (including the silencing of women but most especially Black, Brown, Indigenous and other people of color) is standard practice in many newsrooms. So what? It’s illogical, cruel, and deranged to think that just because that dynamic is a part of journalism’s history, it should be accepted. Why not create the kind of transparency and inclusion that this staff envisions. Were their vision to be honored, all of us would receive a much less distorted vision of reality than the one created when abusers are in charge of newsroom content.

  51. Whether commenters are supporting or condemning this statement, one thing is clear: It only tells half the story. Where is Griffin’s statement, or thorough reporting on her side of the story?

    I will admit, this line doesn’t speak well of the students: “Dr. Griffin took this criticism poorly — she defended herself arguing that there was no proof of her racism, and demanded to speak with a Black student before admitting guilt, which she still has not done.” What I see in that statement is a large group of people demanding that one person, alone and outnumbered, confess to being guilty to the accusations levied by the group, and that simply defending herself is yet another crime in their eyes. Until they clarify that statement, I have to see them not as a bunch of righteous victims, but as Maoist bullies. These students may well have dealt with a lot of crap, but their simply saying it doesn’t it make it true, and their emphatic gestures are not in themselves persuasive.

  52. Dr. Griffin is doing precisely what she was hired to do: supervise and mentor aspiring journalists. Obviously, she has a lot of work ahead of her & I hope she stays in that role. As for the students who resigned, accept the resignations immediately. These snowflakes have no place in journalism if they can’t accept tough love, criticism and an occasional insult or two. Time to grow up, kiddies

  53. Like we see everywhere in this country today, it’s a black supremacist power play, using a race hoax as a battering ram. And of course, the black supremacists can count on support from racist, White “allies.”

    Let me guess: They plan on replacing Kenna Griffin with a black.

    “Staffers repeatedly asked her to soften language when delivering critiques, but she refused each time.”

    If they can’t deal with blunt criticism, then they’re morally unfit to be journalists or college students.

    Why is it that the biggest haters are always bragging of how “loving” they are? And what on Earth does a “safe and loving environment” have to do with putting out a newspaper, or any other business, aside from dealing with, say, babies or terminally ill patients?

    As for the quitters, good riddance to bad rubbish.

    Shut down the pathetic rag; it’s a newspaper in name only.

    Meanwhile, I hope Kenna Griffin sues the pants off you.

    • lmao @ Nicholas Stix you write for VDARE, which is white supremacist trash that even Trump would feel embarrassed looking at. You’re a joke.

  54. It’s surprising how poorly written this is given the number of people who signed it. Most of Griffin’s comments seemed well-deserved (for example, prematurely labeling Taylor’s killing as “murder,” which has in no way been yet established).

    I think the resignation of these “reporters” will serve WSJ’s interests well. Perhaps some true journalistic talent will take their places.

  55. If you’re an activist just say so. Journalists are meant to be objective and two-sided. OoooOOoOo she was meeeaaan to us and didn’t follow along with our views on the world. You should take that as a challenge to understand her and incorporate differing views. I’m glad I left.

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