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NYU student who tore down Israeli hostage posters claims she was suspended under pressure from pro-Israel ‘stakeholders’: suit

An NYU student who was suspended for taking down Israeli hostage posters on campus has sued the school, claiming the university imposed “excessive sanctions” on her as it was allegedly pressured by powerful, pro-Israel “stakeholders”.

The first-year undergraduate Hafiza Khalique in mid-October was suspended for the rest of the academic year after being identified in a viral video of three individuals ripping down “Zionist propaganda posters” of an NYU building.

Now, she is demanding that the suspension be reversed, claiming it contradicts the university’s code of conduct and puts her scholarships at risk, according to a New York state Supreme Court lawsuit filed on April 6.

A New York University student, Hafiza Khalique, suspended for removing Israeli hostage posters, has sued the university, alleging “excessive sanctions”. YouTube / BreakThrough News

Shortly before she filed the suit, Khalique also claims she secured a meeting with a dean to discuss her concerns, but was told that gaining access to NYU’s administrative offices was challenging due to opposition from a “stakeholder,” according to the suit.

The dean, who is unnamed in the suit, stated that the unidentified “stakeholder” opposed her participation in the graduation ceremony, the suit claims.

“In the NYU community, such ‘stakeholders’ are widely believed to be pro-Israel individuals external to the NYU community but placing NYU under great pressure, including wealthy donors threatening to withhold contributions,” the lawsuit claims.

The university disputed Khalique’s allegations in a statement to The Post.

“In the wake of October 7, NYU has been quite clear with our community about our expectations for student conduct and the consequences for violating our rules,” NYU spokesperson John Beckman said.

“We have an obligation to maintain a campus climate where hatred and intimidation have no place and where NYU’s academic mission can carry on without disruption,” he added.

New York University disputed the reasoning of the case, citing school’s “obligation to maintain a campus climate where hatred and intimidation have no place.” MichaelVi – stock.adobe.com

Since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war, NYU said it has reviewed more than 90 student conduct cases “related to current concerns,” some resulting in “significant suspensions.”

In a November email announcing Khalique’s suspension, obtained by Washington Square News, the Office of Student Conduct accused her of destroying “university property or the property of others” and violating NYU’s Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment policies.

Khalique’s lawsuit defended her tearing down the posters, claiming that “as a form of symbolic speech and protest, she showed her support for and protection of the victims in Palestine by tearing down a flyer herself.”

Khalique also claims the pro-Israel posters were unauthorized by the school and “would have been taken down whether it was an act of protest or not” — and also claims that a member of the Office of Student Conduct allegedly affirmed that view during an initial hearing.

Khalique seeks to reverse her suspension, which was enacted in 2023. Instagram/sophiagindi_
She cites violations of university policies and risks to her scholarships. Instagram/sophiagindi_

Khalique’s suspension, enacted at the end of the fall 2023 semester, is slated to conclude in fall 2024. According to the suit, she sought to appeal her suspension late last year, but her appeal was denied.

Unable to attend classes and maintain satisfactory academic progress, she now risks losing her two scholarships, according to the lawsuit.

Khalique also allegedly received hundreds of harassing emails, direct messages, and fake LinkedIn job invitations from “sociopathic internet trolls,” according to the suit, which included calls for her execution and deportation to Gaza, she told Washington Square News. 

Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, the university’s campus has turned into a battleground between both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine demonstrators. Getty Images

Scared to leave the dorm over assault threats, she said in the lawsuit the university administration and professors rejected her requests for accommodation and relocation, prompting her to live off food deliveries for weeks.

Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, the university’s campus has turned into a battleground between both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine demonstrators.

On Saturday, the group of unidentified pro-Palestine activists sprayed bright red “FUNDS GENOCIDE” under tiles “New York University” on the on-campus subway station, aiming to sabotage NYU’s newly admitted student weekend.

In an anonymous statement posted online, the group said the stunt was targeted at prospective students and their parents attending the event. Allegedly, the event plays a pivotal “moment to ensure a new base of donors.”

A group of pro-Palestine activists aimed to sabotage NYU’s events for prospective student admits on Sunday. Talia Jane via communiqué

The activists called for the shutdown of NYU Tel Aviv and accused the university of investing in weapons manufacturing companies aiding Israel.

“If NYU refuses to divest from genocide, we will continue to make sure that they bear the financial burden for their support,” the statement reads.

“​​We will drive away your donors, who know better than to give their money to a genocidal endowment. We will turn your students against you, who are already organizing right under your nose. You are fighting a losing battle that will only get worse as this genocide continues.”