In Protests

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Officials on Tuesday suspended Students for Justice in Palestine at GWU from hosting and participating in on-campus activities for at least 90 days following the group’s anti-Israel and anti-GW projections onto Gelman Library last month.

Officials will bar SJP from sponsoring or organizing on-campus activities on GW property and from using any indoor or outdoor University facilities for at least the next 90 days after determining the group’s projections onto the library violated GW policy, according to a University statement shared with The Hatchet. A representative from GW SJP — who spoke under the condition of anonymity due to threats of doxxing and harassment — said the organization is planning to combat the decision “on every front” but declined to further discuss details at this time.

Officials will also prohibit SJP from posting communications on GW property until May 20, 2024, per the statement.

After 90 days — or Feb. 12, 2024 — officials will continue to restrict SJP’s use of GW’s facilities and campus events through the end of the academic year, according to the statement. The statement did not specify how officials will do so.

“Effective immediately, the university has prohibited SJP from participating in activities on campus,” the statement reads.

The SJP representative said they are extremely disappointed but not surprised in the University’s decision to prohibit their group from organizing on campus because of GW’s “unwavering support” of Zionist students on campus and attacks toward their group.

“We see this very clearly as being a political response to a growing wave of backlash and repression towards Palestinian organizing, but specifically the Palestinian student movement that’s been happening the past few weeks,” the representative said.

The representative said GW sharing its statement with The Hatchet “very, very shortly” after notifying SJP of the suspension shows that the restrictions on the group are not about student safety but have “everything to do” with GW’s public-facing front.

The representative said the restriction is a scare tactic that comes at a “timely moment” as the group calls for GW to divest from weapons companies and defense contractors that supply arms to Israel.

“GW is continuously proving, as they have proven time and time again for many, many years, that they will always align with the Zionist lobby and against the right to free speech and the right to assembly of their own students,” the representative said.

The representative said despite the past few weeks being “extraordinarily difficult” and dangerous for campus community members — referencing people ripping hijabs off Muslim students on campus, verbal harassment and alleged attempts of physical assault — they will continue to support each other through the SJP’s mutual care and community action.

“GW can continue to try their repressive tactics, they can continue to try to suppress our movement,” the representative said. “But that movement will continue regardless.”

GW’s Tuesday statement says an investigation led officials to determine SJP’s actions violated GW’s policies, including Gelman Library’s Building Use Guidelines — which prohibit any posters deemed offensive — and the University’s policy against noncompliance because initially members of SJP allegedly refused to comply with officials’ directions to stop the projections.

The noncompliance policy states that any individual who fails to abide by “reasonable” verbal or written directions of officials — including GW Police Department officers and representatives of the Division for Student Affairs — violates the Code of Student Conduct.

The projections included about 10 different statements like “GW is complicit in genocide in Gaza,” “Glory to our martyrs,” “GW the blood of Palestine is on your hands” and “Free Palestine from the river to the sea.”

Following the projections, a representative of SJP who was granted anonymity due to threats of doxxing and harassment told The Hatchet that a GWPD officer first told the group their demonstration was compliant with the law and GW policy but later returned and said Dean of Students Colette Coleman ordered them to shut down the projections. Following a tense exchange with the officer and Assistant Dean of Student Life Brian Joyce that lasted about 15 minutes, SJP members took down the projections.

The representative said at the time that SJP worked to ensure their display was compliant with GW policy but felt officials had suppressed SJP’s message, regardless of whether or not their demonstrations followed policy.

University President Ellen Granberg said the projections were antisemitic and in violation of GW policy in a statement released Oct. 25, the day after the projections. Granberg’s statement followed national outcry and pressure from alumni and members of Congress urging her to condemn the demonstration, with some calling on GW to expel the students.

The SJP representative said at the time that GW does not respect their lives, right to free speech and protests against the killings of Palestinian people.

In the past month, GW SJP and other University student groups have organized protestsvigils and walkouts on campus in response to the escalating war between Israel and Hamas, which has led to the killing of more than 11,000 Palestinians and roughly 1,200 Israelis since Oct. 7.

Columbia University on Friday suspended its chapters of SJP and Jewish Voice for Peace — an anti-Zionist Jewish student organization — through the end of the fall term following an unauthorized walkout and violations of Columbia’s policies regarding campus events, according to the Columbia Spectator.

Brandeis University also decided to no longer recognize its chapter of SJP on Nov. 6 due to the national organization’s reported support of Hamas, according to a release from Brandeis.

This story is developing.

Grace Chinowsky contributed reporting.

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