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NYU forces anti-Israel protesters to write essays as punishment

Opponents say discipline is ‘Orwellian,’ ‘re-education’

New York University students who were arrested at a recent anti-Israel encampment must write “reflection” essays as part of their discipline, according to the campus Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine.

The university’s Office of Student Conduct issued the punishments last week for students who were arrested April 22 in connection with a pro-Palestinian encampment on campus, according to a news release.

The pro-Palestinian group referred to the disciplinary measures as “Orwellian” in the release.

One punishment, a five to six page “reflection paper,” must include “a clear, well-developed response that demonstrates that you have thought about all aspects of the issue/decision/behavior that resulted in your involvement with the Office of Student Conduct,” according to a university instructions sheet.

The instructions sheet states the paper “cannot serve to justify your actions, evaluate the actions of others, or challenge a conduct regulation.”

In the essay, students also must describe their personal values and consider how their actions affected other people, including the university and “society as a whole.” Additionally, the instructions tell students to consider what they need to do to “make things right.”

NYU is requiring other student protesters to write “dozens of writing assignments” through its Ethos Integrity Series Modules, according to the news release. The series is supposed to help students develop “moral reasoning” and “ethical decision-making skills.”

In addition to writing essays, some students were banned from campus and university activities, according to the group.

Middle Eastern studies Professor Sara Pursley, a member of the pro-Palestinian group, criticized the disciplinary measures in the news release.

“Since they can’t write anything justifying their action, students seem to be banned from writing about personal values that might be relevant here, such as a belief in freedom of expression, the responsibility to oppose genocide, or the duty of nonviolent civil disobedience under certain circumstances,” Pursley said. “This seems rather ironic in an essay on integrity.”

On X, conservative Princeton University law Professor Robert George said while he believes students should be disciplined for unlawful activities, NYU’s specific essay requirements are concerning.

“Students who engage in disruption, harassment, or other unlawful activities – no matter the cause they are seeking to advance – should be subject to disciplinary proceedings and appropriate sanctions, but they should not be subjected to thought reform or re-education,” George wrote.

Police in riot gear arrest dozens of NYU students and faculty who refused to leave a makeshift anti-Israel encampment in late April, The Fix reported.

Police said the protesters were arrested for “disorderly conduct” and unlawfully blocking traffic, according to the Washington Square News, NYU’s student newspaper.

MORE: Jewish NYU student kicked out of campus leadership post for opposing Hamas terrorism reinstated

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.