NYU-AAUP Statement on the Actions of the Mills Administration

May 3, 2024 

Even as university leaders around the country are sitting down in good faith with  student protesters to reach agreements over demands, the Mills administration has once  again chosen the path of repression. The order to demolish the Greene Street Walkway  encampment and arrest students en masse is another shameful moment in NYU history.  The request to the NYPD cited the camp as an “unacceptable risk to our community.” No  senior administrator actually visited the encampment during the week of its existence  despite repeated invitations by students and faculty, so we can confidently challenge this  overblown, and evidence-free assessment. In fact, these arrests (made in the early morning  of May 3rd while most students in the camp were asleep) posed an unacceptable risk to the  community of the encampment; they compromised the health and safety of students,  including by cutting them off from medications and exposing them to a large, armed police  force known for extreme and arbitrary violence. 

Those who have been at the camp on a regular basis know that it has been a  peaceful, highly disciplined, and well-organized community. Students were there to protest  the genocide in Gaza, but they have also been learning together in teach-ins, studying  peacefully for finals, using the space of the university as a site of collective learning. The  only disruption to the community has come from counter-protesters who showed up, with  impunity, to direct racist comments at students of color and other supporters of the camp.  Significantly, despite open channels to many faculty and students, the only people who  seemed to know of the police intervention before it happened was Fox News, whose crew  were there even before the NYPD was. 

There were many other ways for our president to approach the challenges and  opportunities posed by the students in the encampment. In opting to absent herself from  any negotiations with students, she set a shameful example of how to lead. In calling, on  two occasions, for the NYPD’s riot police to violently arrest members of our community,  she demonstrated her indifference to the well-being of the student and faculty body that  her office is required to uphold. In continuing to discipline and suspend students and  instructors for speech that is fully protected under AAUP principles of academic freedom,  she has consistently placed the interest of donors and partisan elected officials above the  integrity of NYU’s traditions. On the basis of that conduct, we have no confidence in her ability to perform the  ongoing duties of her office in a wise and humane manner.

The AAUP Executive Committee