Students arrested at Gould Plaza required to complete ‘dozens of writing assignments,’ faculty group says

NYU’s Office of Student Conduct is allegedly requiring that some students arrested at the Gaza Solidarity Encampment in Gould Plaza write “reflection papers” and complete “dozens of writing assignments,” a recent Faculty & Staff for Justice in Palestine press release stated. The release said that in emails se​nt last week, the university informed students they would receive a censure — or a “formal reprimand for violation of university policy” — on their transcripts if they did not submit the assignments by May 29. 

One of the assignments instructed students to write a reflection paper describing the “incident” for which they were called in the OSC and assessing whether the decision they made aligned with their “personal values.” The paper “cannot serve to justify” the student’s actions, “evaluate the actions of others, or challenge a conduct regulation,” according to the assignment’s instructions. The other assignment is a 49-page “series of readings and reflective activities” that aims to help students “learn about and understand” their own values and how their actions “affected others and the community.”

“Either they really don’t understand that these students are living their values, or this was just intended to be humiliating and infantilizing,” Sara Pursley, a CAS professor and FSJP member, said in an interview with WSN. “It’s ironic to say the least that, in an essay on integrity, they tell students they can’t actually talk about what their real values were.” 

In the May 13 press release, FSJP also criticized NYU’s use of Advocate — a higher education software created by the “behavioral intervention management” company Symplicity — which the group claims houses the OSC’s writing prompts. The group noted that Symplicity, which supplies student conduct programs to NYU and over 250 universities, pleaded guilty in federal court on criminal hacking charges in 2014. 

In a written statement to WSN, university spokesperson John Beckman called FSJP’s press release “disappointingly misleading” and said that the only people “determining the sanctions that students may receive from conduct proceedings” are staff at the OSC.

“The implication that there’s something insidious going on or that NYU has ‘outsourced’ adjudication of the university’s student conduct procedures is deceptive propaganda,” Beckman wrote. “Symplicity has nothing —  repeat, nothing — to do with the specific sanctions NYU students may receive as a result of a conduct process.”

The FSJP press release comes after the university had allegedly dropped criminal charges brought against all protesters arrested at the pro-Palestinian encampment in Gould Plaza three weeks ago, including dozens of students and faculty. Since the encampment, on-campus groups, including FSJP and the NYU Palestine Solidarity Coalition have been demanding that NYU pardon students facing disciplinary action for their involvement in pro-Palestinian demonstrations, divest from companies with ties to Israel, shut down its study away site in Tel Aviv and remove police from campus. 

NYU allegedly began disciplinary hearing for students who were involved with pro-Palestinian demonstrations on campus last week, although NYU PSC did not say how many students received misconduct violations or what university policies they were accused of violating. More recently, nine students were suspended and two were given persona non grata status after a demonstration in Bobst Library on Friday, according to NYU PSC. 

Contact Dharma Niles at

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