Outlining the Road Ahead for Our Community

October 31, 2023

Dear Members of the George Washington University Community,

We are entering a new phase of the Israel-Hamas conflict both at home and abroad. A ground offensive has begun in Gaza that puts more lives at risk and worsens the already dire humanitarian crisis. Antisemitism and Islamophobia are on the rise, with disturbing incidents occurring around the world, across the country, and on college campuses, including GW. Many of us are deeply and personally impacted by these events. Now, more than ever, it is crucial that we stand together as a community.

In past statements, I have made it clear that I condemn the terrorist attack on Israel and all forms of antisemitism and Islamophobia. Protecting and preserving our shared community, however, must go beyond making statements. I want to share the steps we are taking to support our students, faculty, and staff during this increasingly complex time. 

To strengthen safety and security on our Foggy Bottom campus, we have increased GWPD patrols and outdoor space monitoring, and have assigned additional security officers to residence halls as needed. We are also aware of ongoing and planned activism throughout the District. We are working closely with metropolitan and federal resources to assess our level of exposure and act to secure our campus further. Many in our community are struggling with these events more personally and need support. To help, we have consolidated our health, safety, support, and security resources here to make them more accessible. 

Over the last few weeks, I've had the opportunity to meet with Jewish, Muslim, and Arab members of our community, including Israelis and Palestinians. I have been alarmed by reports of casual bigotry and direct identity-based mistreatment. There is no place for this at GW. If you experience these incidents, I urge you to report them, either through GW's Bias Reporting System, the Student Conduct Incident Reporting Form, or, for faculty and staff, by contacting the Office of Faculty Affairs or the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Access, so that appropriate actions may be taken. 

As we move forward, it is also critical that we enhance the ability of our community to constructively engage across what are difficult and complex issues. Consequently, I have directed our university leadership to address the following priorities:

  • Expanding support for religious, fraternal, and political groups.
  • Enhancing training for faculty and staff to support all our students, particularly those impacted by this conflict. 
  • Reconciling the need to preserve the fundamental right to free speech with our responsibility to create and uphold shared community values. 
  • Deploying our world-class academic resources to deepen our collective understanding of this complex conflict and path forward.

This conflict has exacerbated fissures in our community, but we can repair them by recommitting to our shared strengths. Let us show the world that you can condemn terrorism and also grieve for all of its innocent victims. You can take a stance for what you believe in while recognizing other perspectives and experiences. You can stand up for your beliefs without intimidating, insulting, or attacking those who disagree. I know this will be challenging at times, but we did not come to GW to take the easy way out. We came to GW to change the world.  


Ellen M. Granberg