Executive Summary: Updating our Community on the 10 Point Plan for Student Safety and Well-being
Date: November 30, 2023
To: NYU Students
From: NYU President Linda G. Mills and Senior Vice President for University Life Jason Pina
A month ago, we shared with our community a 10 Point Plan to address concerns about safety; antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of bigotry; well-being and the diverse needs many have had in the aftermath of the attacks of October 7. The plan was the first of its kind among universities; it has since been praised by the Academic Engagement Network and emulated by other institutions. Critically, the Plan is far more than words. It is a plan of action on which we have made significant progress.
Since issuing the plan, NYU has drawn on our experience in addressing antisemitism on campus, and has devoted much time, energy, and effort to the plan’s multi-pronged approach to help ensure that our community members feel NYU is a place where they can live, work, and learn in peace.
Today, we would like to share with you an executive summary update on our progress, as well as a link to a more detailed report.
Safety and Security
Since October 7, we have supplemented our regular Campus Safety deployment with over 9,000 hours of additional, enhanced Campus Safety officer patrol and deployment activity, along with additional training for our CSOs. We have also strengthened our partnership with the NYPD, and benefited from the addition of more than 1,300 hours of NYPD officer patrol shifts around campus.
This approach has been particularly important given the challenges inherent in our campus environment — interwoven, as it is, into the streets of New York. The juxtaposition of public spaces – sidewalks, the park — with our own property can make it difficult to differentiate between NYUers and non-members of our community, some of whom have been responsible for spewing the worst sentiments we have seen expressed near our campus. Nevertheless, we will continue to use all resources to address these ongoing concerns.
Code of Conduct
To date, over 60 students have been involved in cases related to current events that have been brought to our Office of Student Conduct (and related processes at the Law School). We have reviewed or are reviewing each and every one, and approximately half of those students have cases that are currently pending at various stages of the process. While we cannot provide specifics due to privacy restrictions under FERPA, we can say that a number of students have been disciplined with significant suspensions; other sanctions have also been imposed. A number of cases have been closed because there was no NYU-identifiable person responsible for the alleged misconduct or because, upon review, the conduct did not violate our policies.
All this to say: just because you haven’t heard about specific outcomes related to specific incidents, do not assume that there haven’t been cases adjudicated, particularly given that in this fraught moment, we are committed to following our procedures.
We have provided guidance on how we are enforcing our policies, including our Nondiscrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy, which has, for several years, included our adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism, along with specifically calling out other forms of discrimination.
Listening and Programming
Over the course of the past several weeks, President Mills and other University leaders have met with hundreds of community members to hear their concerns and to continue to refine the 10 Point Plan. Programming has been broad-based and extensive, and a detailed update on the Plan is available here. Briefly:
- Members of the Office of the Dean of Students, the Center for Student Life, the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life, and the Islamic Center have met with hundreds of students, student club leaders, parents, and other stakeholders to support people through this time, and collectively offered nearly 100 events and trainings related to antisemitism and Islamophobia, safety planning, freedom of expression, community support and pastoral care, and dedicated opportunities to lodge reports of misconduct.
- Programming by our 26 faculty fellows in residence, serving over 12,000 students in our residence halls, has focused on how to hold difficult conversations and on organizing several gatherings for next week’s Around our Campus: Week of Care, Community and Connection.
- The “Respect | No Hate” campaign has been well received and will be expanded beyond the 121 buildings with posters and over 60 buildings with 90 plasma screens.
- Looking forward, we recently announced the creation of the Center for the Study of Antisemitism, an effort to examine contemporary and historical manifestations of antisemitism, to study how it can best be combatted, and to develop programmatic initiatives to address it. An inaugural event, inviting university leaders from around New York and government partners, is being planned for Spring 2024.
- Next semester, trainings in the residence halls will provide students the opportunity to learn more about antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of hate, as well as our general standards of conduct. In Fall 2024, a new required course will be provided in the residence halls to reinforce our nondiscrimination and anti-harassment obligations to each other as well as our expectations of how students will treat each other.
The Time is Now
While NYU’s 10 Point Plan can’t be expected to eliminate all the pain and anxiety stemming from current events, street protests, and social media increasingly filled with hatred, we believe that the steps we have taken and the resources we have put in place have been responsive to our community. We hear that many are still upset, and many are looking for more ways to stop the hate they are witnessing. And so are we.
As conduct proceedings have progressed, it has been reassuring that, with the benefit of hindsight, some of those students have come to realize the impact that their words and actions have had on our community, and have expressed tremendous regret. What may have started as taking a side, did so at the expense of our common humanity.
With that perspective in mind, we enter next week’s programming hoping for less shouting and more listening; for choosing words with care and intentionally setting aside those phrases and chants, even amidst protest, that are provocative and deeply painful. We call for building up our community rather than tearing down.
During these most turbulent times, let us chart a path forward and do what institutions of higher learning can and should do best: reason together, strive for insight instead of hate, and remain committed to our academic mission and community values.
1. Security Measures
Our first and primary goal in issuing the plan was to enhance the security of our students in and around our campus, and we have taken considerable measures to achieve that.
Most notably, we have very substantially increased the number and presence of our Campus Safety Officers (CSO) around campus, assigning an additional 9,000 hours of patrol and deployment activity since October 7, over and above our normal levels of Campus Safety staffing. We have also enhanced their training to respond to events in real time. This increase in trained CSOs has benefited from the addition of more than 1,300 hours of NYPD officer patrol shifts around campus.
The nature of NYU’s campus — interwoven, as it is, into the streets of New York — presents particular challenges; indeed, some of the most vile language and disturbing conduct has involved non-NYU individuals in public places near NYU — spaces over which NYU has no control. To maintain order and safety, we have and will continue to partner closely with the NYPD, which does have jurisdiction over the park, the sidewalks, and the streets. Thoughtful, prudent preventative measures, such as enhanced deployment of trained Campus Safety personnel at protests and coordination with the NYPD presence, has allowed demonstrations to proceed while maintaining our teaching, learning, and scholarly missions.
2. Enforcing Codes of Conduct
The University is committed to enforcing its codes of conduct, and in particular to taking action against violent or threatening behavior, property destruction, and disorderly or antagonizing conduct. We have and will continue to discipline those who violate them, while keeping individual cases confidential.
NYU’s Office of Student Conduct (OSC), along with related processes at the Law School, have reviewed over 90 cases related to current concerns since October 7; a number of those cases have already resulted in student suspensions, while others have resulted in the imposition of other forms of discipline, and still others continue to be adjudicated. FERPA prevents us from sharing details on specific incidents. All this is to say — conduct proceedings take time and are private, but please know that we are holding people accountable when student conduct violations occur. Approximately 60 students have been involved in these cases, with about half of those students involved in cases still currently pending at various stages in our process.
Likewise, NYU’s Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO), has reviewed 23 cases related to current concerns since October 7, with a number of cases still being investigated and some referred to other units — such as Human Resources (HR) and Faculty Affairs — for further action.
We have provided guidance on how we are enforcing our policies, including our Nondiscrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy. Several years ago, we were among the first universities to specifically incorporate the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism, along with specifically calling out other forms of discrimination.
A note on the student conduct process — we understand the intense emotions and sense of urgency that may accompany submitting a complaint about a student breaking our rules. However, it is important and necessary that we follow our procedures — perhaps particularly in moments of intensity — which may involve interviewing complainants and any witnesses, reviewing incident reports from Campus Safety or other channels, providing the respondent with proper notice and an opportunity to be heard, and deliberation on sanctions, as well as allowing a chance to appeal, too.
3. Responding to Complaints
The Bias Response Line (BRL) is a centralized reporting option for reporting instances of bias or discrimination. It reviews reports for the type of conduct alleged and the individuals involved, and ensures that the reports are routed to the appropriate office for further review and investigation — such as OSC, OEO, HR, faculty affairs, Campus Safety, and more. It makes sure students know about resources like the Wellness Exchange.
We have added staff to the BRL to ensure we could meet our goal of responding within 48 hours to all those who submitted reports (including over the weekends and holidays), and we have offered 18 hours of in-person and virtual sessions to assist students with making reports to the BRL, in addition to our existing reporting options. We have shortened referral and response times, but please know that the BRL is a place to lodge a report; the BRL is not itself an adjudicatory or investigatory office. The BRL makes sure reports are directed to the right office for adjudication.
Please also note: The BRL is NOT an emergency hotline, nor is an email to a staff member at NYU. If you are experiencing or witnessing an imminent safety emergency, please contact 911. You may also contact Campus Safety, whether during or after an incident; Campus Safety has a victim services unit designed to support crime victims and has helped members of our community make reports to law enforcement.
4. Opening Difficult Conversations
In order to better prepare members of the campus community to have potentially difficult, sensitive discussions, the University has:
- Leveraged resources from the Office of the Provost “Teach Talks”: Planning for Unexpected, Sensitive Conversations in the Classroom, with a second offering scheduled for December 7.
- Worked closely with 26 Faculty Fellows in Residence (FFIRs), representing 18 buildings across our residence hall system, to implement training and begin to offer programming on difficult conversations for the approximately 12,000 students living in our residence halls.
- Next semester, new curriculum will give faculty in residence opportunities to raise awareness about antisemitism and Islamophobia, and our general standards of conduct.
- Beginning in Fall 2024, a new course will be required for students in our housing, focused on our nondiscrimination and anti-harassment obligations to each other as well as our expectations of how students will treat each other.
5. Hosting Listening Sessions
Over the course of the past several weeks, President Mills and other University leaders have met with hundreds of community members to hear their concerns.
Listening sessions have been held in conjunction with the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life, the Islamic Center, and with the Office of the Dean of Students, the Stern School of Business; this is in addition to countless students provided personalized support. And President Mills herself has attended or hosted listening sessions that have included over 150 participants.
6. Creating Advocacy & Resource Spaces
Since the original two Pop-Up Advocacy and Resource sessions on October 25 and 26, the Office of the Dean of Students has planned, hosted or co-hosted 10 events covering topics including safety planning, freedom of expression, and offering pastoral guidance and care. In addition, the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life and the Islamic Center have provided over 50 tailored programs and events. Contemporaneously, the Wellness Exchange has fielded 7% more calls, urgent visits, and individual appointments year-over-year in the period since October 7.
7. Campaign for Mutual Respect
The “Respect | No Hate” campaign was launched with posters in 121 buildings in Manhattan and Brooklyn, displays on 90 plasma screens around campus, broadcasting on NYU-TV in 60+ campus buildings, dorms, and student areas, and the creation of a website for easy access to key information: nyu.edu/respect.
Feedback has been positive, with faculty, staff and students have commented on the importance of this messaging across campus. Going forward, the campaign’s creators will be looking at expanding its presence by working closely with student, faculty and staff groups committed to fostering respect at NYU.
8. Offering Education About Antisemitism and Islamophobia
Since October, trainings focused on both antisemitism and Islamophobia have been offered weekly, with over 100 people who have voluntarily taken these trainings. Mandatory training focused on these topics will begin in Fall 2024, as noted above.
On November 15, NYU announced the creation of the Center for the Study of Antisemitism, an effort that will bring together scholars and students from across diverse disciplines to examine both contemporary and historical manifestations of antisemitism, to study how it can best be combatted, and to develop programmatic initiatives to address it. This new Center will spearhead both basic and applied research on antisemitism and develop initiatives across NYU to combat the dangerous re-emergence of this age-old hate.
9. Community Engagement
Around our Campus: A Week of Care, Community and Connection is now planned for December 4-8, 2023. We anticipate wide-spread participation in the upwards of 50 campus events that will be available. The activities — offered by NYU students, faculty, and staff, for NYU students, faculty, and staff — respond to calls by our community for care and connection.
10. Promoting Understanding
The Working Group to Promote Understanding met in November and is meeting on a biweekly basis. Faculty and staff working group members discussed elements of the 10 Point Plan; they also discussed filling the open staff position of special advisor on religious discrimination.