American University formally condemned antisemitism and banned protests inside University buildings, mandated that clubs welcome all students and that posters around campus and university-sponsored events “promote inclusivity” in an email sent to the community on Jan. 25.
The email comes in the wake of a complaint filed against the University by a Jewish advocacy group and multiple protests last year which took place inside the School for International Service, including an AU Students for Justice in Palestine-led protest that took place Nov. 9 until campus police removed protesters and an AU Sunrise Movement protest that took place December 2023. President Sylvia Burwell, Vice President Bronté Burleigh-Jones, Vice President of Inclusive Excellence Nkenge Friday, Vice President of Student Affairs Raymond Ou and Director of Athletics Billy Walker signed the message to the AU community.
Burwell specifically banned protests that take place inside “university buildings, residence halls, dining facilities, or other indoor spaces used for educational activities, events, or university operations.”
Any clubs that are found to be unwelcoming will lose university recognition which grants funding and access to university facilities. Anyone displaying posters that do not “promote inclusivity” will be subject to general disciplinary action. According to the email, the University is currently in the process of hiring for a new Student Affairs leadership position to implement and “ensure compliance” with new guidelines.
This email also comes a week after the University announced changes to the American University Experience 2 curriculum to include “the relationships between racism, discrimination and oppression, antisemitism, anti-Muslim hate, and other forms of hate and bigotry,” and training opportunities with the Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab, according to Burwell and Vicky Wilkins, acting provost and chief academic officer.
Last year, swastikas were found drawn on Jewish students’ doors in Letts Hall, death threats were left in the office of a Palestinian staff member and a Department of Performing Arts poster was vandalized with “antisemitic language and symbols.”
“Ensuring that AU is an inclusive, welcoming, and respectful community is part of our fundamental commitment to our students, faculty, and staff. These actions will help achieve this critical goal.”
Correction: A previous version of this article only mentioned a Students for Justice in Palestine-led protest that occurred within a University building. The article has since been updated to acknowledge The Sunrise Movement protest which also took place inside a University building.
This article was edited by Tyler Davis, Abby Turner and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Luna Jinks.