May 20, 2019

NYU President Doesn’t Attend Ceremony Giving Award to SJP

Screenshot from Twitter.

New York University (NYU) President Andrew Hamilton did not attend the Presidential Service Award ceremony on the evening of April 17, where NYU Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) received an award.

Washington Square News, a student-run NYU newspaper, reports that, according to university spokesperson John Beckman, Hamilton “was unable to make the event” where various students groups were given the President’s Service Award, which are “given to students or student organizations that have had an extraordinary and positive impact on the University community.”

Ezra Cohen, president of the pro-Israel NYU student group Realize Israel, told the Journal in a text message, “We are thankful that President Hamilton recognized that giving the award to NYU SJP was a university-wide mistake. This error was confirmed when, minutes after receiving the award, students from SJP took pictures of Realize Israel members without their consent, and posted on their social media page, calling them racists, on top of their efforts to marginalize Jewish/pro-Israel students through boycotts and intimidation tactics.”

“However, we do congratulate all the other winners of the award, and regret that those who rightfully deserved their awards were not honored by the president’s presence,” Cohen continued. “The best action NYU and the president could have done taken would have been to rescind the award given to SJP as to not penalize other winners. To all the other winners: It is a shame that NYU belittled your achievements because of a single reckless selection. We recognize your efforts to better the NYU community and your peers, and encourage you to continue your efforts.”

NYU SJP and the university did not respond to the Journal’s requests for comment.

Judea Pearl, chancellor professor of computer science at UCLA, Daniel Pearl Foundation president, and National Academy of Sciences member, asked for his Distinguished Alumnus Award to be rescinded by NYU for giving the award to SJP in an April 16 letter to Hamilton.

“In the past five years, SJP has resorted to intimidation tactics that have made me, my colleagues and my students unwelcome and unsafe on our own campus,” Pearl wrote. “The decision to confer an award on SJP, renders other NYU awards empty of content, and suspect of reckless selection process.”

Pearl tweeted on April 17, “It seems that NYU administrators have discovered a new and courageous way of handling disruptive student organizations: Give them awards and do not show up to the ceremony. Don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Other winners of the award in 2019 include the Black Student Union, Generation Citizen and Incarceration for Education Coalition.