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

Guest Essay: Open letter from NYU parents, guardians and loved ones in response to Mills mobilizing NYPD against our students

In a letter to university president Linda Mills, almost 600 parents, guardians and loved ones criticized NYU’s response to the Gaza Solidarity Encampment at Gould Plaza.
Manasa Gudavalli
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. (Manasa Gudavalli for WSN)

To Linda Mills, 

We write to you as concerned and disturbed parents, guardians and loved ones of NYU students. We received an email from Linda Mills and Fountain Walker detailing the events at the Gaza Solidarity Encampment on Monday. NYU’s email has not reassured us; rather, the lies you are pushing infuriate and deeply alarm us. Our number one priority is the safety of our children and their freedom of expression. Your push of misinformation is a betrayal of trust and a blatant attempt to deflect accountability for the university’s violent and horrific actions. 

Gould Plaza is one of the only spaces on NYU’s campus where students can gather in large groups, yet upon assembling, NYU labeled their presence an offense, calling it “trespassing” and barring our students from freedom of movement on their own campus. Students organized in a peaceful, appropriate manner, exercising their right to free speech — something that NYU celebrates as a part of a rich history of political activism and global awareness. 

The “breach” referred to in the email was neither violent nor aggressive. Students entered the plaza holding their NYU IDs high to demonstrate the hypocrisy of the university’s restriction of free speech and freedom of assembly on the campus they attend. 

We have not been offered any proof of an incident of intimidation, unsafe behavior, or antisemitism that you touted to justify the brutalization of our students. In fact, many of the protesters on the plaza identified themselves as Jewish, holding signs that said “anti-Zionism is not anti-semitism,” leading the group in a Jewish prayer and Seder service that went on in front of hundreds without interruption. 

We support our students’ right to protest. The point of a protest is to raise awareness and attention for global causes our students are passionate about — disruption, enthusiasm and outspoken advocacy are key tenets of successful protest. It was Linda Mills and NYU, who authorized riot police to arrest our students, that created a dangerous and violent situation. The NYPD slammed students and faculty to the ground, pepper-sprayed and zip-tied hands behind their backs before loading NYU community members onto buses. Many students arrested were only at the protest for a matter of minutes. This is all well documented. Your attempt to assuage parents’ concerns after this gross conduct is unconvincing.

What is left out entirely from Linda Mills’ account is the brutality of the disproportionate police response in arresting and harassing student protestors. We watched videos of unnecessary and extreme violence on our children and we hold Linda Mills responsible. Additionally, there is no mention of reported campus lockdowns that occurred later that evening. Our children report that they were locked out of residence halls and other campus facilities, unable to reach safety. Failing to recognize and address this issue is beyond concerning. The university should be providing students with safe spaces to express their opinions and be heard. If you are incapable of protecting our kids’ First Amendment rights and distinguishing between legitimate protest and criminal activity, you should step down.

We are grateful to our NYU professors who physically put themselves in front of our kids to try and keep them safe. What does it say to NYU that your own professors were willing to risk their jobs and safety to protect our kids against the administration’s actions?

We condemn in the strongest terms Linda Mills’ and Fountain Walker’s orders to arrest and brutalize our children. 


NYU Parents, Guardians and Loved Ones

As of publication time, the letter has 598 signatures.


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 the opinion desk at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Manasa Gudavalli
Manasa Gudavalli, Editor-in-Chief
Manasa Gudavalli is a super senior studying a super strange combination of psychology, mathematics, journalism, and chemistry. When they are not editing the Washington Square News, they are probably reading Freud, watching college football, or developing film photos. You can find them on Instagram @manasa.gudavalli and

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  • C

    christine PeddyMay 2, 2024 at 9:40 am

    My daughter is at NYU and there were multiple lockdowns in her dorm, we received emergency alerts and she was scared. The majority of protestors were confirmed to not be NYU students or associated with NYU. A letter was sent to parents. I also live right in NYC and can see for myself, it’s a very dangerous time in the city. The news doesn’t tell a complete story, so people quickly form their opinion. It’s a stressful time for everyone, and I am grateful for the NYU professors and staff that are supporting her.

  • K

    Katherine GirschApr 29, 2024 at 9:42 pm

    Beautifully stated.

  • D

    David Elliot HublerApr 29, 2024 at 6:27 pm

    As a member of NYU’s WSC Class of 1963 and co-editor in chief of Washington Square Journal, the predecessor of WSN, I share the thoughts and outrage of the many current NYU students and parents who condemn the actions of President Linda Mills, et al. Keep up the excellent journalism and especially the reportage of the current struggle for freedom of religion and civil rights for all religions.

  • A

    AwApr 29, 2024 at 6:11 pm

    Well said. Free speech should be protected, especially when these are anti-war protests, which have taken place on university grounds over many decades.

    Universities should not buckle to pressure from Congress, given that we have a Congress that is heavily influenced by AIPAC. We need moral clarity from university leaders.

  • H

    Harry IcelandApr 29, 2024 at 4:43 pm

    So moving. Across the country university leadership is cowering to the worst politicians and conservative donors and failing students and faculty . Shame!

  • S

    Shelton BradfordApr 29, 2024 at 3:18 pm

    I just read the letter, if “outside agitators” and protesters are that are not student affiliated are on private property, it’s trespassing. Period. The letter response to Jewish students complaints of anti-semitism is to insist there is no proof of anti-semitism despite evidence to the contrary and the “I’m not anti-semitic, my best friends are Jewish” Defence.