Hamilton Flips NYU the Bird: Edits to a ‘Note’ From President Hamilton

The email from NYU’s president is an effort by the administration to discourage political organization on our campus toward making NYU a Sanctuary Campus. In this age of “new uncertainties,” we call out our administration for prioritizing their image and the financial interests of an unaccountable Board of Trustees over the needs of the students, staff, and faculty. Vague commitments and video feeds of birds are not enough.

We made some edits to Hamilton’s letter. Students all over the country are walking out in the face of Trump. We need better than this from NYU!


Edits to Hamilton’s Letter

The respite of winter break traditionally brings a sense of renewal. This year is different. It is not just the violence that took place during the holidays — in Turkey, in Germany, and elsewhere — it is also the new uncertainties we face in the United States.

Let’s be specific. Those uncertainties includes a Muslim ban by a President who openly cavorts with white supremacists.

For a university as global as NYU, the recent restrictions on travel would in any event be a particular challenge, at odds with our faith in global engagement and the free movement of ideas, students, and scholars. But the executive order announced last week is made more troubling still by discriminating against Muslims.

That’s not just troubling, it is illegal.

It has frightened many in our community, and rightly shaken us all.

We are beyond shaken. This executive order has thrown the lives of students, faculty and their families into disarray. Other universities have taken specific actions like deleting databases, ensuring counsel and funding to foreign students, and actively fighting back against Trump. Nothing like that from NYU.

Our first duty in the face of these demoralizing [UNJUST] developments is to do our best to care for our colleagues, peers, and friends; to make clear they are welcome and have a rightful place in this University; and to reassure them that we stand with them.

If this is the case, why has NYU objected to declaring itself a sanctuary campus? Much of NYU has signed on to our call for making NYU a sanctuary campus.

We have already seen such solidarity these past few days, both in the work of the School of Law’s [CHRONICALLY UNDERFUNDED] Immigrants Rights Clinic, which — in conjunction with interventions by Senator Charles Schumer, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Congressman Jerrold Nadler — successfully freed three NYU students detained at the US border and in the participation of hundreds of students, faculty, and staff in the peaceful Soulful Justice Rally in the Kimmel Center.

Yet ICE and the Department of Homeland Security, whose presence jeopardizes the safety of our undocumented community members, were invited to NYU.

But we should not mislead ourselves into thinking that NYU will be immune from the sharper aspects of the conflicts and divisiveness our nation now confronts.

We are well aware that NYU does not stand outside of current events. Protesters have filled Washington Square Park almost weekly since the election. As an institution NYU is deeply implicated in the Trump presidency. Board members like Kenneth Langone have vocally supported trump while others like John Paulson have donated vast sums of money and continue to advise him. We also lease buildings from the Kushner family.

That was evident in the events at Kimmel the following night when a controversial invitee of one of our student clubs spoke.

The NYU college Republicans invited Gavin McInness, an alt-right pundit whose hate speech supported by University resources.

As I communicated to the NYU community last month and in November, NYU will be steadfast in its commitment to the privacy of our students, faculty, and staff, and will not voluntarily assist in any government efforts to disrupt the lives of immigrants or undocumented members of our community.

We fear that current efforts fall short of what is necessary to protect the NYU community. We are asking that the President declare NYU a Sanctuary Campus — an effort several university groups have already signed on to.Hamilton and the entire NYU administration should be responsive to NYU students, faculty, staff and the community writ large. We, not the Board of Trustees, are the ultimate stakeholders in the university.

You can also view the annotations to his letter here. (Please note that the section beginning with ‘We should not mislead ourselves’ is not published on NYU’s web version of the letter.)

For more information and/or to get involved, contact us at nyusanctuary@protonmail.com.