NYU student newspaper staff resigns over new adviser
In a letter published by NYU's student-run newspaper, Washington Square News, on Monday, the 43-member editorial staff announced that they would all be resigning. They came to the decision, they say, after the instatement of a new advisor, Dr. Kenna Griffin, a former reporter, editor, and journalism professor at Oklahoma City University, who they accused of being "rude and disrespectful." Despite how difficult the decision to resign was, the letter begins, the former staff members "understand that continuing to work at WSN in [their] current circumstance would do more harm than good, and [they] refuse to condone what [they] have seen over the past three weeks."
The letter begins by describing the sudden termination of their Editor-in-Chief without consultation of the paper's managing staff, which occurred shortly after Griffin assumed her position. It continues, "Dr. Griffin was increasingly rude and disrespectful to the staff, despite being repeatedly reminded that her words had a negative effect on staff morale. [She] was unnecessarily harsh, and when confronted about her behavior, would defend it by arguing that WSN’s staff is too immature to accept critique." Tensions grew worse from there, as staff operated under "uncertainty and distress" without their EIC, and feared that other staff members might be unexpectedly let go.
The relationship between advisor and staff worsened after a dispute over the use of the word "murder" when describing the death of Breonna Taylor. Griffin requested the word be edited out, which was, the post states, "the straw that broke the collective camel's back."
In an interview with the New York Times, Abby Hofstetter, who stepped down as managing editor at WSN, said, "That hurt our Black staff. Tensions were really high. The way that so much of the staff just woke up to that message, it was very clear that she did not understand the gravity of what she was saying."
The letter notes that, when criticized, Griffin defended herself and asked a Black student to write an op-ed explaining her feelings on Taylor's murder, which was deeply out of line. "We are not comfortable continuing to work in an environment that trivializes Black voices when they speak up and then uses them for personal gain," the letter continues. Griffin allegedly never apologized for this incident.
The letter goes on to detail a number of Griffin's other offenses, concluding with a list of the staff's demands, which include the immediate resignation of Dr. Kenna Griffin. "WSN, at its core, is not a racist publication," they write. "We have worked hard to make WSN the safe and loving environment for staff that we know it to be. Dr. Griffin’s actions counteract WSN’s core values, and the lack of discipline on behalf of the board and the university indicate that as long as Dr. Griffin serves as WSN’s editorial advisor, they will continue to remain as intolerant as she is."
You can read the full letter here.