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NYU protesters suspended after 40-hour protest slows University operations

One week after barricading themselves inside a New York University dining room and sparking a 40-hour protest that stalled operations at the university, 18 students were handed probation and week-long suspensions.

The protesters, who were affiliated with a group called Take Back NYU, pledged to stay in the dining room until a list of 13 demands, including budget transparency and donations to Palestinian causes, were met.

On Feb. 20, the remaining students - who had dwindled to 18 from about 65 - were escorted from the building and suspended, pending judicial action. While suspended, the students lived in alternative housing instead of their dorms and were not allowed to use their meal plans, go to classes or work at university jobs.

According to the Washington Square News, NYU's student newspaper, the students were offered deals on Feb. 25 by the university that extended these suspensions through Feb. 27. Past that date, the students would not be permitted to be members of university-recognized student groups until May or to hold leadership positions on campus until next March.

In letters - signed by Mark Wais, vice president of student affairs at NYU, delivered to the students and obtained by WSN - the university outlined the charges against the students, their punishment and the damages sustained by the university.

According to the letter, the protest violated university rules by disrupting university operations, interfering with the rights of other students, causing damage to university property and entering non-public university space without authorization. The letter also said that preliminary estimates placed the cost of the protest above $80,000.

Emily Stainkamp, a sophomore who was involved in the protest and subsequently suspended, said she believed the punishment was harsh. "I don't understand how it benefits university life to be depriving 18 kids of their housing, labor, education and food all at once," she told The Herald. "I understand that we were a threat to the function of the university when we were occupying - that's the point - but we're no longer posing any serious threats."

But Stainkamp, who said she has fallen behind in her classes as midterms loom next week, decided to take the punishment instead of appealing it. "I didn't like it, but it would have been a waste of time to fight," she said.

NYU spokesperson James Devitt said the administration was prohibited by federal law from commenting on the matter.


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