At 3 p.m. Tuesday, students gathered in Kogan Plaza before marching to the White House and later Rice Hall in protest of President-elect Donald Trump.
At 3 p.m. Tuesday, students gathered in Kogan Plaza before marching to the White House and later Rice Hall in protest of President-elect Donald Trump.
Updated: Nov. 15, 2016 at 9:11 p.m.
This post was written by reporters Meredith Roaten and Avery Anapol.
Roughly 400 students walked out of class at 3 p.m. Tuesday, joining a march to the White House in protest of President-elect Donald Trump and later presenting several demands to University administrators to support marginalized students on campus.
The protest was part of a nationwide walkout movement organized and spread on Facebook. GW was one of more than 35 universities who signed on to the event, according to a Google Doc outlining instructions for participating universities. D.C. high school students also organized a walkout today, leaving their schools around noon to protest at Trump International Hotel, The Washington Post reported.
At least 10 student organizations participated to organize the event, including Our Revolution GW, the Feminist Student Union, Black Women’s Forum, GW Native American Student Association, Students for Justice in Palestine and Fossil Free GW.
Representatives from the involved organizations worked together on a list of demands that protest leaders delivered to administrators at Rice Hall upon returning to campus from their march to the White House.
Logan Malik, a member of Fossil Free GW, chairperson of the Student Association’s student life committee and one of the walkout’s lead organizers, said the demands – which ranged from requesting protection for minority students to divestment from fossil fuels – were similar to those put out by the national movement, but modified to be more GW-specific.
The demands are suggestions for university administrators in the effort to create a “sanctuary campus,” or a campus that is deemed safe for students of color, immigrants, undocumented students and members of other marginalized groups. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser also released a statement Monday reasserting D.C.’s status as a sanctuary city.
The list of about 15 demands includes increased funding for the Multicultural Student Services Center, commitment to protecting the privacy of undocumented students, workers and their families, increasing resources and financial aid for low-income students and students of color, increased acceptance of Palestinian students, divestment from “unethical” corporations and condemnation of anti-Semitic and Islamophobic activity on campus, among others.
“This is more the America and the GW that we have in mind, and that we think is acceptable for the students on our campus,” Malik said. “This is a general coming together of people who reject bigotry on campus and off, who reject racism on campus and off, who reject climate change denial on campus and off, there’s an unlimited list.”
While the protesters waited in Kogan Plaza for more students and faculty to join and the walk to the White House to start, various students used a megaphone to lead chants, share experiences and energize the crowd.
Infither Chowdhury, a member of the Muslim Students Association and one of the event organizers, said that the group that helped coordinate the movement knew non-violent protest was the best way to make a statement.
“We continue with the national movement in trying to make sure that our students on campus from marginalized communities know that are people here on campus that are working with them and for them,” he said.
Miles Awofala, a sophomore, said that he, like many students, heard about the protest from Facebook and friends who were organizing the event. He said he attended because he wanted Trump to know that America is going to “hold him accountable.”
“I’m not safe on this campus. I’m not safe in this world,” Awofala said. “I feel that it is my duty as a black man in America to stand up for my rights and stand up and show that I am here and I will be respected and my people will be respected.”
Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski said that administrators, faculty and staff became aware of the plans for the walkout on Monday night.
“I think a lot of email Listservs were talking about it,” Konwerski said. “Obviously we want this to be a place where students can express their opinions, and also for other students to come out and be supportive.”
The students and faculty participating in the march left Kogan Plaza around 3:45 p.m., with Metropolitan and University police department escorts.
The group marched down Pennsylvania Avenue chanting, “Ain’t no power like the power of the students, ‘cause the power of the students don’t stop!” and “Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like.” They arrived at the White House around 4:15 p.m., where at least five students took turns at the megaphone.
Brian Barlow, the president of the GW Native Students Association, spoke about the movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline and led the group in the Lakota chant, “Mni wiconi, water is life.”
Elizabeth Ogunsanya, a first-year medical student, shared her experience as a black woman in the medical school, saying that although her class has 140 students, she can count the number of black students “on both hands.” She said that although students of color work just as hard as white students, they do not get the same amount of credit.
Ogunsanya said that as a medical student, she fears that a Trump presidency would result in more women coming into the hospital with injuries caused by illegal abortions.
“I haven’t slept in a week because my heart is full of anxiety, my heart is full of despair,” Ogunsanya said.
The students walked from the White House to around Washington Circle and ended at Rice Hall. Along the way, the protesters chanted “black lives matter” and carried signs, and were greeted by passersby filming and honking cars.
UPD officers guarded the entrance of Rice Hall as the students arrived, but allowed three of the leaders to enter the building and present the list of demands to administrators.
Students again took turns at the megaphone outside the building where most of the GW administrative offices are housed, some reading poems aloud and others speaking about personal experiences that empowered them to participate in the protest.
Tara Fitzmartin, a sophomore, said Trump opposed all the values of the communities she represented but the protest gave her hope.
“This is the sign that we needed for everyone on this campus, for the people who are scared that feel alone. We are with them and they know that now,” Fitzmartin said.
Although the movement was large and prominent on campus, not all students were supportive of the walkout.
Diego Rebollar, a freshman, said that while he supported the students’ right to assemble, he thinks it is disrespectful to walk out of class in protest.
“I think it’s pretty disrespectful to all our parents who are paying a lot of money for us to go here, if you’re on financial aid, the donors who donate a lot of money for us to go to class and learn,” he said.
Hunter Wilson, a freshman and member of GW College Republicans, said he hopes the protests die down as Inauguration Day approaches, and that liberals and conservatives can come together across ideological lines.
”I think we can try to reach some kind of common ground,” he said. “I’m hoping for the best, that people can listen to the other side at least rather than call them names or some blanket group.”
The GW chapter of the Young America’s Foundation also voiced their opposition to the walkout via a statement released on social media.
The group condemned the protest and the demands, calling them “radically absurd and profoundly divisive.”
“The cries of “not my president” and vitriolic marches and riots against the next properly-elected president are antithetical to our Republic’s fundamental commitment to the peaceful transition of power,” the statement read. “We strongly oppose this walk-out and those students abandoning their educations and disrespecting their peers and professors in order to lash out against the will of the country.”
Leah Potter contributed reporting.
This post was written by Hatchet reporter Laura Whaling.
Sixteen members of the Progressive Student Union marched to Rice Hall Thursday afternoon to deliver a petition demanding changes to GW’s current campus dining plan.
The petition, which had 600 signatures, included demands for an increase in student involvement in the decision-making process behind campus dining choices, more sustainable food and maintaining current employee contracts. Both students and J Street employees signed the petition.
GW’s contract with Sodexo, who provides dining services like J Street to the University, will expire at the end of the year.
Ross Berry, the president of PSU, said the group was going to ask the desk receptionist in Rice Hall – where most administrator offices are housed – to speak to Senior Associate Vice President of Operations Alicia Knight, but said it was unlikely they would meet with her.
Two weeks ago, PSU started the petition asking the University for more input on campus dining options, a daily swipe-system and more sustainable food options. The petition also asked GW to keep all current workers and increase workers’ rights after Sodexo said it would fire two workers in the winter.
Before entering the building, the group posed for a photo, and on Berry’s order of “fists to the sky,” they raised their arms.
Berry said that after being told that the students would not be able to meet with Knight or University President Steven Knapp, Berry handed the petition to the receptionist and said the PSU will give officials one week to respond to their demands.
Berry addressed the students after dropping off the petition, telling them their involvement was helpful in the “year-long process” of changing campus dining.
“We can’t emphasize enough that students and workers be heard in this process,” Berry said.
Updated: April 13, 2015 at 10:26 p.m.
About 30 students, including members of Students Against Sexual Assault, marched across campus Monday, demanding that administrators implement mandatory sexual assault education at Colonial Inauguration.
The protest followed the announcement that officials would have sexual assault education in an online-only format.
The protest began in Kogan Plaza, and students walked through campus to Rice Hall, where University President Steven Knapp’s and Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski’s offices are located.
Students carried mattresses and chanted phrases like “This is what democracy looks like” and “”GW stop stalling, rape culture is appalling.” Some students also fastened red tape over their mouths.
Last month, 92 percent of students voted in favor of having a mandatory sexual violence education session at CI.
SASA Co-Presidents Ariella Neckritz and Kirsten Dimovitz and Vice President Laura Zillman met with Knapp’s chief of staff in the building while other students stood outside.
“Thank you for coming out today in solidarity and support for survivors and saying this is an issue you care about,” Neckritz said to the crowd of students.
— Sophie Krensky (@sofacranky) April 14, 2015
The masked man who attempted to sexually assault a woman in a Rice Hall bathroom 10 days ago also robbed her, according to police documents.
The female staffer reported that the suspect punched her in the eye and mouth before he stole her earrings, ripped open her clothes and fled, according to Metropolitan Police documents. Security has heightened in the building, which houses top administrators, since the Dec. 4 incident.
University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said a guard would remain in Rice Hall’s lobby weekdays from 5 to 9 p.m.
Employees and students must present their GWorld cards and visitors must provide their names and the name of the office they are visiting. Staffers received an email the day after the attack to implement a buddy system.
The victim reported that she was inside the bathroom when the lights suddenly turned off. When she went to turn them back on, the suspect came up from behind and attacked her, covering her mouth, according to the documents.
“Wait 10 minutes before leaving the bathroom,” he told her, according to the documents.
The victim did not file a police report for sexual assault. She could not describe the 5’7″ man, cloaked in a mask or scarf, in more detail due to the darkness.
Sherrard said MPD is leading the investigation.
A man attacked and attempted to sexually assault a female staffer in Rice Hall, according to a Safety and Security Alert Tuesday.
The female said she was attacked just after the room’s lights went out, and said that she fought back and caused the suspect to flee.
The victim could not describe the attacker because of the darkness in the bathroom, but said the man was about 5’7″ wearing a mask or scarf, according to the alert.
The alert did not specify what day the assault occurred, and University Police Chief Kevin Hay did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Rice Hall houses GW’s top administrators, including the president and provost. The incident occurred on the third floor, which shares space with the Academic Scheduling Office and the Office of Student Financial Assistance.
At least 500 protesters will take a stand Sunday on the National Mall as the University hands an honorary degree to the world’s richest man, one of the protest’s organizers said Thursday.
Demonstrators will descend on Commencement to call out Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim for vulturous and monopolistic business practices, said Andres Ramirez, a leader of the Two Countries One Voice human rights organization that has picketed outside Rice Hall since May 11.
The organization of Latino leaders, students and community activists sent a letter May 8 to University President Steven Knapp, demanding Slim be uninvited to Commencement. But Ramirez said Vice President of External Relations Lorraine Voles said May 16 that Slim’s invitation would not be rescinded.
“I am not frustrated by the discussions [with the University]. This issue caught GWU off guard, and these things generally take time to resolve,” Ramirez said in an email.
University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard did not immediately return a request for comment on how GW would respond to the organization’s plan to picket at graduation.
Ramirez has claimed that Slim donated to the University, alleging that monetary ties were the deciding factor in the GW’s decision to award him the President’s Medal in 2009 and the honorary degree this year. Ramirez claimed the billionaire donated to GW in 2010 as part of an initiative combatting tropical diseases through the Sabin Vaccine Institute – which was partnered with the University at the time.
Slim did not donate directly to GW as part of the initiative, University spokeswoman Candace Smith said.
Sabin Vaccine Institute communications officer Johanna Harvey declined to release the amount of Slim’s contribution.
The University discovered asbestos in Rice Hall during renovations and conducted an abatement in early August, a health and safety official said.
The seventh floor of Rice Hall – the building that houses GW’s highest ranking officials – is undergoing upgrades and the asbestos abatement was a precursor to the renovations, William Flint, director of the office of health and safety, said.
Individuals exposed to asbestos, a fiber that has been commonly used in building materials, can contract severe health problems if they inhale the substance when it is in the air. The Environmental Protection Agency outlines construction rules for structures that might have asbestos-containing materials.
“GW has an asbestos policy that guides the maintenance of asbestos-containing materials in University buildings,” Flint said. “Prior to renovation or demolition of any University building, a hazardous materials survey is conducted using District of Columbia and EPA regulations to determine the risk to students, staff, faculty and construction workers. If hazardous materials are discovered, proper abatement is conducted to remove the materials prior to construction or demolition.”
“Asbestos is a common problem in demolition sites of older buildings, but proper testing and mitigation prior to demolition protects all members of the University community from exposure to hazardous materials,” Flint said.
Senior Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Darrell Darnell said the University community will not see any adverse health affects due to asbestos, but declined to comment on where specifically asbestos was found in Rice Hall – for example, in the walls, around pipes or in the floors or tiles.
The week-long asbestos abatement in Rice Hall began Aug. 5, shutting down elevator service to the seventh floor of the building as a safety precaution. The area was also enclosed with protective materials while air samples were taken to test their quality.
Keith Bailey, a compliance safety and health officer with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said OSHA would not get involved with the asbestos situation so long as no complaints are filed to the agency about overexposure to the asbestos beyond permissible levels.
Officials checked the University Parking Garage, currently being torn down to make way for the Science and Engineering Complex, for asbestos prior to beginning any demolition.
This post was written by Hatchet Staff Writer Shaeera Tariq.
A multiple use service center for faculty and staff is set to open on the first floor of Rice Hall this July, a University spokeswoman said earlier this week.
The new center will streamline several faculty and staff human resource officers, including the benefits administration office, the parking and transportation services office, the office of payroll services, and the tax and workers compensation office into one, University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said.
“On opening-day, the FSSC will provide a service-oriented, single-source location for GW’s faculty and staff to conduct transactions currently managed by the FSSC’s collaborating offices,” Sherrard said in an e-mail.
Sherrard said the FSSC will serve as a “walk-in center,” allowing faculty and staff a single office to address multiple issues handled by multiple existing offices on campus.
“This walk-in center will be geared to serve employees who need to conduct their business in person,” Sherarrd said. “The services provided will be consistent with those provided by collaborating departments and business partners by phone or via the web.”
Over time, the center will expand to include other related functions as well such as GWorld services, Sherrard said.
The new location will share the space on the first floor with Human Resources which will transition its staff to the Rice Hall office, Sherrard said.
“In addition to providing a single-source face-to-face service presence, the collaborating departments are also working to expand self-service and online offerings wherever feasible,” Sherrard said.
Sherrard was unable to give an exact estimate of the construction costs and the hiring of new staff members for the center.
The D.C. Council voted 11–2 in support of what might become the one of the nation’s most generous paid family leave Tuesday evening.
The SA Senate passed a resolution in support of a congressional bill on the accessibility of educational materials for the hearing and visually impaired.
University President Steven Knapp is the 27th highest-paid private university executive in the nation, according to the most recent data from the Chronicle of Higher Education.