Message from President Granberg and Provost Bracey on Protest Activity, April 28

April 28, 2024

University Update

Dear Members of the George Washington University Community,

We are writing today to provide an update on the university’s response thus far to the protest encampment on University Yard and to outline our expectations for the days to come.   

GW remains dedicated to protecting our community’s rights to activism, engagement, and the free expression of diverse viewpoints. This vigor and breadth of dialogue about important issues is a hallmark of the GW experience and essential to our university’s ability to foster social and intellectual growth.

Free expression and activism, however, are not unlimited. Our highest priority is, and always will be, maintaining a safe campus environment that allows for the world-class academic experience our students and their families have entrusted us with providing. The encampment on University Yard violates our clearly defined rules of conduct and behavior. Further, the actions of some protestors have been highly offensive to many members of our community. The protest is jeopardizing our ability to meet the priorities of our university community, and the hateful language being displayed has no place on our campus.

From the start, GW provided a secure alternate location to hold a peaceful demonstration to ensure the continuation of university business. Demonstrators were instructed to move to Anniversary Park, which they could use daily until 7:00 p.m. On Thursday, when the demonstrators refused multiple times to relocate, GWPD requested the assistance of the DC Metropolitan Police Department to provide additional support related to the demonstration.

As far as the university is aware, there have been no incidents of violence. However, as the first evening progressed and the crowd on University Yard grew larger, our priority became safeguarding our community and implementing the safest resolution possible with the personnel and resources GW had available. With this in mind, the university focused on limiting access to University Yard as protestors departed, without resorting to forcible relocation, and on initiating academic and administrative consequences for those who continued trespassing on GW property. The determination was made that students who remained in the encampment would be placed on temporary suspension and administratively barred from campus. It is important to note that, due to federal regulations, the university will not comment on individual student conduct cases or ongoing conduct cases, including confirming whether or not such a case exists. 

GW continues to offer Anniversary Park as an alternate demonstration site and implores demonstrators to vacate University Yard immediately. In the meantime, we have reduced the space available for the 20 remaining demonstrators to minimize further disruption to university activities. We are also allowing access to food and water. We have provided demonstrators with clear information on how to access medical assistance if needed.

On Friday evening, April 26, demonstrators barred from University Yard established a second encampment in the middle of H Street, beyond the barriers securing GW property. Currently, we are aware of approximately 20 tents erected in the street by individuals from across the region. This demonstration is on public property and under the jurisdiction of the DC government. The city street is neither controlled nor maintained by the George Washington University. MPD is monitoring this First Amendment demonstration in coordination with GWPD to ensure the safety and security of the community.

This is an evolving situation tied to a larger coordinated national protest effort that we will continue to monitor and address. As we approach the end of the academic year, our ability to operate in a way that ensures the academic success and personal well-being of our community becomes even more critical. We are committed to ensuring that important moments in our students’ educational journeys, including finals and Commencement, may happen safely and appropriately. But fulfilling this commitment takes everyone.

We ask that the entire GW community join us in creating the campus environment that we all came to GW to experience: a community that supports those who want to voice their perspectives on important issues and encourages rigorous and respectful civil discourse, where students feel safe and proud of who they are, and where every individual is free and able to pursue a world-class education. This is the GW we all want and the GW our community deserves.



Ellen M. Granberg

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