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Sunday, June 23, 2024
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Solidarity encampment continues amid statements from AU and GW

AU administrators announce ‘no camping activities are permitted’

American University students joined an encampment at George Washington University on the University Yard, along with students from other schools in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area. 

GW students established the encampment around 5 a.m. today, according to GW’s student newspaper, The Hatchet. An Instagram post from the DMV Students for Justice in Palestine Coalition around 5 a.m. encouraged other schools to join the encampment. 

The encampment grew to around 300 people this afternoon. 

AU clarifies campus protest policies

While the encampment at GW continues with AU students present, AU’s Acting Provost and Chief Academic Officer Vicky Wilkins, CFO, Vice President and Treasurer Bronté Burleigh-Jones and Vice President of Student Affairs Raymond Ou sent an email to the AU community at 3:27 p.m. saying that “no camping activities are permitted” on AU’s campus.

“While expressive activity may occur in outdoor spaces consistent with the Free Expression policy, the use of tents and other camping equipment at this time is not permitted and will be immediately addressed,” the email said. “Additionally, any participants in any demonstration who are not affiliated with the university are not permitted on campus and will be removed.”

The email also reinforced the Jan. 25 ban on protesting inside University buildings, noting that the University “will proactively engage with demonstration participants to address safety concerns or incidents that interfere with university operations or violate policies,” and that any protest which continues “after engagement and de-escalation will not be permitted, and those responsible will face conduct actions, disciplinary sanctions, or arrest as appropriate.” 

Garrett Washington, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Public Affairs, said they have attended other on-campus and off-campus protests in support of Palestine. They were at the encampment to “stand in solidarity with marginalized groups across the world, including Palestinians.”

Washington said they want outgoing President Sylvia Burwell to “invest in your students.”

“That includes making people feel comfortable on campus, regardless of the group of people … who they identify with,” Washington said.

GW administration responds to encampment 

In a statement at 2:16 p.m., GW President Ellen Granberg and Provost Christopher Alan Bracey explained that GW requested assistance from the Metropolitan Police Department to remove the encampment after protesters — including those from other universities in the area — failed to relocate after multiple instructions from GW Police. 

The statement called the encampment “an unauthorized use of university space at this location [that] violated several university policies,” which “prohibit the disruption of the normal academic activities of our community – the vast majority of whom are not protesting” includes students from several D.C. area universities, including Georgetown University.`

“As we have always done, we will allow GW students an appropriate place for their protest within the defined limits of free expression at GW. However, we will not allow students from other local colleges or unaffiliated individuals to trespass on our campus. We can and will enforce the time, place, and manner restrictions that continue to govern activities on our campus,” Granberg and Bracey wrote in the statement.

While GW will “continue to uphold the right of all our community members to freely express their views and to foster dialogue in a way that models productive disagreement,” activities like an encampment, the statement said, are disruptive to learning and present safety concerns. 

A group of GW students holding Israeli flags stood on the outskirts of the encampment. David Delarosa, a sophomore studying business at GW, said the group was witnessing rather than counterprotesting. 

“We’re not counterprotesting. This is our campus. We have a right to be here just as much as anybody else,” Delarosa said. “We can totally agree with people’s First Amendment rights to a protest … but what we don’t agree with is when somebody uses their First Amendment rights in a hateful manner.”

Delarosa said he is open to dialogue and conversation, but “people on the other side are not willing to have a conversation.”

“We want to listen to what they have to say. We’re here to witness it first hand so that nobody can ever tell us that what we heard is false,” he said. 

The GW administration has instructed students to leave by 7 p.m. tonight. The DMV Palestinian Youth Movement posted on its Instagram that it is calling for more students to join them at 6 p.m. to “rally in full force.”

Clarification: Not everyone present at the encampment was involved with its planning nor did everyone spend the night. Some individuals came to University Yard to show their support. 

Abigail Turner and Lydia LoPiccolo contributed to this reporting. 

This article was edited by Samantha Skolnick, Zoe Bell, Tyler Davis and Abigail Turner. Copy editing done by Luna Jinks and Charlie Mennuti. 

As the semester comes to an end and one of the founding members leaves American University, Section 202 has decided to take a trip down memory lane. For our fans, old and new, who are wondering how Section 202 came to be, this episode is a must. Listen along as hosts Connor Sturniolo and Liah Argiropoulos reminisce about the beginning of Section 202 and how it got to where it is now.

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