Thoughts on Recent Campus Events and the War in Israel and Gaza

October 11, 2023

Dear Members of the George Washington University Community,

On Monday, October 9, I wrote to members of the GW community to convey my shock and sadness surrounding the Hamas attacks on Israel and Israeli citizens and to offer the full support of our university to all those impacted. The extent of this brutal violence and the staggering loss of innocent lives has continued to come to light, and I am horrified and grief-stricken. In no uncertain terms, I condemn these acts of terrorism. 

My message to our community stressed the importance of coming together and caring for one another, especially those who are Israeli, Jewish, Palestinian, Muslim, Arab, or connected to the region and this war. I also reiterated our university’s expectations for acting and comporting ourselves when discussing or debating difficult topics. These messages of compassion and understanding remain the foremost priority for this university. 

The right to free speech, assembly, and debate is the foundation on which our nation and our university are built, and members of the GW community, including our student organizations, have the right to be vocal and engaged within the boundaries of the law and our university policies. However, we are also a shared community, and I not only condemn terrorism, but I also abhor the celebration of terrorism and attempts to perpetuate rhetoric or imagery that glorifies acts of violence. Such messages do not speak on behalf of me, our administrators, or GW.

The George Washington University is a community of current and future world leaders with deep expertise and lived experiences rooted in this crisis. We know there is a long and complex history associated with this conflict. Still, this does not justify the evil we have collectively witnessed.

Last night, I spoke with students, faculty, and staff who these events have directly impacted. In the coming days, I will continue to meet with others. As we continue to advocate for peace on campus and abroad, I urge our entire GW family to reach out to a friend, colleague, or classmate and show your support. Our community members’ connections to this event are deep, painful, and not always obvious. 

We are continuing to assess our community’s needs as this crisis unfolds. In the meantime, I encourage you to utilize the resources available to all members of our community, including those available through the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Community EngagementCounseling and Psychological ServicesStudent AffairsHuman Resources, or Faculty Affairs


Ellen M. Granberg