GW’s Shared Community

October 12, 2022

Dear Members of the George Washington University Community,

In recent days, we have learned of incidents that caused hurt among members of our community, particularly members of the Jewish community. We provided an update over the weekend, and we have since learned of concerns from Jewish students regarding a demonstration they felt was directed toward them based on their faith. Both incidents involved the GW Hillel building and its community members.

The George Washington University strongly condemns antisemitism and hatred, discrimination, and bias in all forms. Our expectation is that all community members will show respect for one another even when they disagree. As an institution of higher education, our university encourages civil discourse on even the most challenging of issues—including when these issues are political or surround deeply held beliefs. We remain committed to supporting a community where we all feel safe and free of harassment, hostility, or marginalization while upholding the right of free speech, freedom of expression, and peaceful protest. Indeed, facilitating and leading difficult discussions is core to our academic mission and having a positive impact on society.

It is vital that we remember we are all part of a shared university community. Each of us is pained by the harm caused by recent acts that appeared targeted to members of our community based on their Jewish faith or their affiliation with Hillel.

Honoring our commitments to diversity, inclusion, free expression, and community is a delicate and difficult balancing act, and this aspiration has never been more critically important. We are proud to teach, learn, and work with individuals who come from all over the world and who have a diversity of identities and beliefs. And we are fortunate that we each have had unique experiences that shape our worldviews. This community can serve as a model for engaging in meaningful discussions even when we disagree—as long as we always respect and demonstrate empathy for one another through our words and actions.

We need to be willing to engage in this important work together. We hope that we move forward with a readiness to consider our own thinking and understanding, while continuing to find ways of advocating for what we believe in as individuals and as members of the university community. We hope that you will join us in our commitment to fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment for all. We will continue to work together with students, faculty, and staff in striving for this environment every day.

For those seeking support, please know that resources are available through the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Community EngagementCounseling and Psychological ServicesStudent AffairsHuman Resources; or Faculty Affairs.

Sincerely yours,

Mark S. Wrighton

Christopher Alan Bracey
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Professor of Law

Colette Coleman
Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Caroline Laguerre-Brown
Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement