National Conference of Black Lawyers
2472 Broadway #204
New York, NY 10025
NYU & RYNA WORKMAN
OCTOBER 19, 2023
THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF BLACK LAWYERS (NCBL) CONDEMNS THE RETALIATORY ACTION TAKEN BY NYU LAW SCHOOL AND WINSTON AND STRAWN LAW FIRM PUNISHING RYNA WORKMAN FOR EXERCISING THEIR RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH AND THOUGHT.
National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL) stands with Ryna Workman, upholding their right to provide an analysis of the current Israeli-Palestinian War that casts responsibility for the tremendous loss of life on the historic maltreatment of Palestinians since Israel was established on Palestinian soil on May 14, 1948.
The insistence by NYU Law School and the Winston & Strawn LLP Law Firm that the only correct analysis of the current war is one that condemns Palestinians and uplifts Israel, is an abhorrent example of thought control and policing.
On October10, 2023, Winston & Strawn issued the following statement:
“Winston & Strawn learned that a former summer associate published certain inflammatory comments regarding Hamas' recent terrorist attack on Israel and distributed it to the NYU Student Bar Association. These comments are profoundly in conflict with Winston & Strawn's values as a firm. Accordingly, the Firm has rescinded the law student's offer of employment.”
NYU Law School and Winston and Strawn’s treatment of Ryna Workman belies the purported principles of freedom of thought and speech that are bedrock rights in the United States Constitution. It contradicts the importance of analytical thinking in which law students are taught to engage.
Further, the NYU Law School’s response to Ryna Workman’s posting has a chilling effect on student expression that may not align with the Law School’s views. This chilling effect is not localized. It resounds throughout the country making students fearful of doing any analysis that may offend, in this instance, supporters of Israel.
It says that NYU Law School leadership and some law firms wrongfully assume the right to pick and choose what analysis students can take and which analysis is valid based on their identification with the State of Israel. It is an example of biased thinking with a violent twist, which legitimizes the threats against Ryna Workman’s life, denying them the right to employment, and thus an income, and ultimately threatening their right to a legal education.
Law schools should be held to a high standard to admit and allow students from a variety of backgrounds and with a variety of perspectives on current events to matriculate. No school should be allowed to punish a student because they have a particular analysis of current events. The ACLU, for example, indicates that the only restriction on speech should be analogous to shouting fire in a crowded theater.
NYU Law School, by considering punishment, and possible dismissal, of Ryna Workman from the school, is legitimizing the attacks on them by law students and others who post on campus trees signs that say, “You either stand with Israel or you stand for terrorism” and “Justice for Jewish students”.
The threats against Ryna Workman for their bold analysis and conclusions that the policies and practices of the State of Israel in the current Israeli-Palestinian War smacks of a form of genocide, undermines at best, destroys at worse, students’ freedoms of expression and thought, if they dare to engage in critical thinking and analysis that holds Israel responsible. It threatens their right to achieve the credentials needed to engage in a viable career and make a sustainable income.
NYU Law School’s treatment of Ryna Workman to date is antithetical to the approach that should be taken by a law school that has a primary responsibility of teaching the law, both constitutional and statutory and, teaching law students, potential lawyers and judges, to do a thorough, non-biased analysis of a situation in order to determine the best approach to the work they are doing.
Rather than insisting, under threat of punishment, that an analysis of the current Israeli-Palestinian War comport with the apparent NYU Law School analysis that Israel bears no responsibility, the law school, acting as such, could have engaged another student to write an analysis challenging that of Ryna Workman’s.
That is teaching.
That is fulfilling the responsibility to be an institution of higher education.
That is acting in a responsible way as an educational institution, not as an institutional ally of Israel.
We urge you to write Dean Troy Mackenzie and members of the Board of Trustees and voice your support for Ryna Workman’s rights, in fact all of our rights, to freedom of speech and expression on all subjects, including the current Israeli-Palestinian War.
Please see the contact information below.
Dean Troy McKenzie
Assistant: Lucy Schwartzman
Vanderbilt Hall 406D
David A. Tanner
Chairman Of the Board of Trustees
New York University School of Law
BOARD OF TRUSTEES