Opinion: NYU should speak up about the violence in Iran

As an institution that prides itself in global diversity, NYU should be actively supporting Iranian women and students.

A+crowd+of+protesters+standing+under+Washington+Square+Arch+holding+the+Iranian+flag+and+signs+with+a+person+holding+a+wood+stick+with+a+strand+of+black+hair+hanging+by+the+end+of+it.

NYU Students and other New Yorkers attended a vigil for Mahsa Amini, an Iranian women who died during detainment for violating hijab regulations, in Washington Square Park on Sept. 29. (Jason Alpert-Wisnia for WSN)

Molly Koch, Contributing Writer

NYU prides itself on its diversity. The class of 2026 represents 107 countries — five more than the previous year. When a major crisis happens in one of those countries, then, one would expect NYU to support its students. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

On Sept. 16, Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman, was killed by police. According to Newsweek, police accused her of breaking a law that requires women to cover their hair. Because of this tragic killing, global protests have erupted, and social media in Iran has been suppressed. News of the event has reached all platforms — from journalists to social media in other countries, and even to college campuses. But not ours. NYU has been silent.

Nicky Kashani, an Iranian graduate student, shared her thoughts on the violence in Iran in a guest essay published in WSN’s Opinion section last week. She expressed her fear and anger about the violence in Iran. “I personally haven’t been able to contact my family in Iran apart from the momentary glitches that permit their VPN to work, allowing messaging and calls for minutes at a time,” Kashani wrote. She shared her first-hand experience with protesting to show the bravery it takes to stand up to a government like Iran’s and to implore the need for immediate action. In the face of Kashani’s distressing plea, NYU’s silence is deafening. 

When the university announced that it had lifted the mask mandate on Instagram, it was met with cries for recognition of Iran’s violence. #Helpiran and #mahsaamini flooded the comments. The lack of response has fueled students’ concern and disappointment across campuses at NYU. Iranian students have expressed their vast distress about the university’s lack of actions.

The Persian Cultural Society at NYU held a candlelit vigil this past Thursday to honor the lives lost fighting for freedom in Iran.

“​​All are welcome and encouraged to attend this vigil honoring those impacted by the current events in Iran,” the caption of their Instagram post read. “NYU PCS stands with the Iranian people and mourns the lives lost fighting for their freedom. As an organization, we hope to bring our community together during this time and show our solidarity with the people of Iran.”

An NYU spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

NYU has the privilege and platform to speak up, and it has before. When the war in Ukraine began early in the year, the university released a statement condemning Russia’s actions just 11 days after the start.

“As an NYU community, we firmly repudiate violence, racism, bias, and any manifestation of brutality against a specific community,” the statement read. “They are counter to our global values, and today we want to reaffirm our values again, especially as we recognize the global impact of the invasion of Ukraine.” 

But NYU has not yet commented on Iran’s violence against women, and it’s unclear why. 

Many students come here to feel safe and valued. They want to have a place in NYU’s vast cultural diversity. But NYU’s lack of action, even in a statement, to these concerns has only caused more anxiety. It’s time that the university at least said something, whether that be a statement addressing the entirety of the pressing violence against Iranian women, or a list of current active resources for Iranian students. Anything would be better than silence. 

WSN’s Opinion section strives to publish ideas worth discussing. The views presented in the Opinion section are solely the views of the writer.

Contact Molly Koch at [email protected]