Date:   January 23, 2024
To:       The NYU Community
From:  NYU President Linda G. Mills

The start of a semester is usually a hopeful moment. We begin this semester, sadly, against the backdrop of the ongoing and potentially widening Israel-Hamas war, which began so appallingly last semester and has now cost thousands of lives and brought so much grief, the war in Ukraine, and other distressing strife. In addition, this year, the spring semester is contemporaneous with the start of the U.S. presidential primaries, with all the heightened sensitivities and fractiousness they may bring.

Even as these matters are debated, discussed, and studied on our campus, I hope our community will aim to exemplify the highest ideals of reasoned and respectful discourse and be mindful of NYU’s resolute commitment both to the well-being of all our community members and to seeing that our education and scholarly mission proceeds peacefully and steadily. We should be thoughtful about how we engage one another and the language we use; we should be plain-spoken, and circumspect about sloganeering that employs phrases meant only to provoke or whose ambiguity is meant to hide hateful intent.

Academic freedom is a bedrock principle at NYU; however, that does not mean that unfettered expression may take place in any setting at any time in any fashion. To reinforce the ideas of academic freedom and reasoned discourse, this semester we will offer University-wide programming and events that emphasize constructive dialogue, discourse amidst difference, and offerings that will support diversity of thought. To that end, community members are expected to abide in all instances by the University’s guidance and expectations as to the time, place, and manner in which demonstrations and other, similar types of events may take place, and to be accountable for their conduct.

To ensure University-wide student club activities are consistent with these standards, requests to use campus resources will require acknowledgement of our policies, including those on nondiscrimination and anti-harassment. And in line with our 10-point plan, we will continue to take appropriate steps to ensure a safe and secure environment for all our community members. That sense of safety helps support free expression; prohibiting violence, hate, and intimidation allows our community members to participate fully and without fear in campus discourse.

While we may encounter divisive forces this semester, we would do well to keep in mind and to remind one another that the values that unite us — the search for truth, the exchange and exploration of ideas, respect for one another even in moments of emotional pain and sharp disagreement, our individual choice to be a member of this global academic community — are far stronger than the issues that divide us.

I wish you well with your studies, your research, your work, and all your activities.