Faculty Letter to Hamilton Regarding Admin Response to NYU Divest & SLAM Occupation of Kimmel


Photo credit: Echo Chen, Washington Square News 

Dear President Hamilton,

We write to you as members of the NYU faculty to express grave concern regarding the administration’s response to the occupation of the Kimmel Center for University Life by student groups (NYU Divest and SLAM). These students occupied Kimmel with a simple and reasonable request: to have the opportunity for conversation with the Board of Trustees regarding the University’s investments. We have learned that, in response to the occupation, the student affairs office contacted participating students and their parents and threatened to withdraw financial aid and housing. We oppose this punitive and unethical effort to intimidate and target the most vulnerable of our valued student activists, including in this case a transfer student who is a recipient of NYU’s program for Puerto Rican students displaced by Hurricane Maria. Since the protest was rooted in criticism of current university policies, the heavy-handed threats appear to be especially vindictive.

We support students’ unequivocal right to free speech and assembly. Their peaceful occupation of university space is an exercise of that right and respecting that right is vital to preserve academic freedom and open dialogue in a university setting. NYU is an institution that prides itself on its global and liberal dimensions, devoted to openly encouraging students who engage with the world around them. It has a clear responsibility to nurture and protect academic freedom, inclusive of student voices even, or especially when, they are critical of administrative policies.

We are dismayed that the administration is applying measures that undermine students’ independence and privacy by informing on them to their parents, and threatening to put their housing and funding in jeopardy. These penalties are particularly threatening to first-generation university students and students from marginalized backgrounds who are disproportionately dependent on financial aid. In effect, the administration is communicating that not all student voices are respected equally, and that those most vulnerable will face the harshest sanctions. These actions set a dangerous precedent. We fear that the long-term impact will chill the campus culture of free speech and deter student activism at a time when, nationally, many diverse populations are raising their voices against unjust policies.

We strongly condemn the actions taken by the Student Affairs office in response to these protests. We demand that you guarantee that no student involved in the occupation of Kimmel loses their housing or financial aid, and that this will not be a tactic used in response to future student actions on campus. In doing so, you will be displaying an unequivocal commitment to academic freedom and free speech within the NYU community.


  1. Sinan Antoon, Associate Professor,Gallatin
  2. John Archer, Professor, English
  3. Cristina Beltran, Associate Professor, SCA
  4. Paula Chakravartty, Associate Professor, Gallatin and MCC
  5. Stephen Duncombe, Professor, Gallatin and MCC
  6. Lisa Duggan, Professor, SCA
  7. Elaine Freedgood, English
  8. Linda Gordon, University Professor of the Humanities,
  9. Florence Kelley Professor of History
  10. Manu Goswami, Associate Professor, History
  11. Greg Grandin, Professor, History
  12. Rebecca Karl, Professor, History
  13. Arang Keshavarzian, Associate Professor, Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies
  14. Anna McCarthy, Professor and Chair, Cinema Studies
  15. Mara Mills, Associate Professor, MCC
  16. Nicholas Mirzoeff, Professor, MCC
  17. Fred Moten, Professor, Performance Studies
  18. Molly Nolan, Professor, History
  19. Vasuki Nesiah, Associate Professor of Practice, Gallatin
  20. Crystal Parikh, Associate Professor, English and SCA
  21. Sonya Posmentier, Assistant Professor, English
  22. Andrew Ross, Professor, SCA
  23. Diana Taylor, University Professor, Professor, Performance Studies and Spanish
  24. Maureen N. McLane, Professor, English
  25. Laura Slatkin, Professor, Gallatin
  26. Elizabeth McHenry, Associate Professor, English
  27. Lenora Hanson, Assistant Professor, English
  28. Sinclair Thomson, Associate Professor, History
  29. Toral Gajarawala, Associate Professor, English
  30. Robert Vorlicky, Associate Professor, Drama
  31. Ann Pellegrini, Professor, Performance Studies and Social and Cultural Analysis
  32. Aviva Slesin, OpenArts, Tisch
  33. Juliet Fleming, Professor, Department of English
  34. Michele Mitchell, Associate Professor, History
  35. Brett Gary, Associate Professor, Media, Culture and Communication
  36. Robert Cohen, Professor, Teaching & Learning
  37. David W. Hogg, Professor of Physics and Data Science
  38. Sibylle Fischer, Associate Professor, Spanish, History, and CLACS
  39. Carolyn Dinshaw, Silver Professor, English and Social & Cultural Analysis
  40. Peter Nicholls, Henry James Professor, Department of English
  41. Kim Phillips-Fein, Associate Professor, Gallatin and History
  42. Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, Global Distinguished Professor, Department of English
  43. Zachary Lockman, Professor, MEIS and History
  44. Jini Watson, Associate Professor, English
  45. Dipti Desai, Associate Professor, Art & Art Professions
  46. Hala Halim, Associate Professor, Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern Studies
  47. Patricia Crain, Professor, English
  48. Helga Tawil-Souri, Associate Professor, Media, Culture, and Communication
  49. Mohamad Bazzi, Associate Professor, Journalism
  50. G.Pryor, Associate Professor, Art & Art Professions
  51. T. Urayoán Noel, Associate Professor, English & Spanish and Portuguese
  52. Emanuela Bianchi, Associate Professor, Comparative Literature
  53. Jeff Goodwin, Professor, Sociology
  54. Andrew Weiner, Assistant Professor, Art & Art Professions
  55. Marie Cruz Soto, Clinical Assistant Professor, Gallatin School
  56. Teresa Feroli, Associate Professor of English, Tandon
  57. Marion Katz, Professor, MEIS
  58. Hannah Gurman, Clinical Associate Professor, Gallatin
  59. Patrick Deer, Associate Professor, English
  60. Kathy Engel, Associate Arts Professor, Department of Art & Public Policy, Tisch
  61. Jessica Hamlin, Assistant Clinical Professor, Art & Art Professions
  62. Timothy J Reiss, Professor Emeritus, Comparative Literature
  63. Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Associate Professor, Gallatin and Sociology
  64. Jim Uleman, Professor of Psychology, FAS
  65. Dara Rossman Regaignon, Associate Professor of English & Director of the Expository Writing Program
  66. Sukhdev Sandhu, Associate Professor of English
  67. Moss Roberts, Prof of Chinese
  68. Paul Thompson, Associate Professor of Film and Television, Tisch.
  69. Cecilia Márquez, Assistant Professor, Social and Cultural Analysis
  70. Sara Pursley, Assistant Professor, MEIS and History
  71. Gary Anderson, professor, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
  72. Sharon Friedman, Associate Professor, Gallatin School
  73. Dean Saranillio, Assistant Professor, Social and Cultural Analysis
  74. Bella Mirabella, Associate Professor, Gallatin School
  75. Alexander R. Galloway, Professor, MCC
  76. Robin Nagle, Liberal Studies & CAS
  77. Christine Harrington, Professor of Politics
  78. Stephanie Harves, Clinical Associate Professor, Linguistics
  79. Wendy Lee, Assistant Professor of English
  80. Monica Kim, Assistant Professor, History
  81. Sam Bowman, Assistant Professor, Data Science and Linguistics
  82. Arun Kundnani, Visiting Assistant Professor, Media, Culture, and Communication
  83. Ailis Cournane, Assistant Professor, Linguistics
  84. Zhen Zhang, Associate Professor, Cinema Studies
  85. Feng-Mei Heberer, Assistant Professor, Cinema Studies
  86. Robert Stam, University Professor (Cinema Studies)
  87. Chris Straayer, Associate Professor, Cinema Studies
  88. Bertell Ollman, Professor of Politics
  89. Hartry Field, Professor of Philosophy
  90. Nader Uthman, Clinical Associate Professor, Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies
  91. Angela Zito, Associate Professor, Anthropology and Religious Studies
  92. Erin B. Mee, Assistant Arts Professor, Drama, Tisch
  93. Alejandro Velasco, Associate Professor, Gallatin and History
  94. Rebecca Anne Goetz, Associate Professor, History
  95. S. Heijin Lee, Assistant Professor, Social and Cultural Analysis
  96. Simón Trujillo, Assistant Professor, English
  97. Laura Harris, Assistant Professor, Art & Public Policy, Cinema Studies
  98. Matthew Silverstein, Associate Professor of Philosophy, NYU Abu Dhabi
  99. Julie Livingston, Professor of History and SCA
  100. Adam H. Becker, Professor of Classics and Religious Studies
  101. David Sider, Professor of Classics
  102. Ritty Lukose, Associate Professor, The Gallatin School
  103. Melissa Turoff, Part-Time Faculty, The Gallatin School
  104. Natalie Jeremijenko, Associate Professor, Art and Art Education
  105. Dolly Chugh, Associate Professor, Management and Organizations Department, Stern