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AN INDEPENDENT STUDENT NEWSPAPER SERVING THE GW COMMUNITY SINCE 1904

The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Diversity, equity official to leave GW in July
By Jenna Lee, Assistant News Editor • June 8, 2024

Students protest ‘Don’t Ask’ policy

Shouts of “Stop the hate!” could be heard blocks away as nearly 60 students made their way from Kogan Plaza to the White House to protest the military’s ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy on Saturday.

Allied in Pride organized the protest after freshman Todd Belok was dismissed from GW’s NROTC last semester for kissing another male in front of two other NROTC members, said Allied in Pride President Michael Komo.

Students brandished signs that read “Repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ ” “I might be straight but I’m not narrow-minded” and “Equality Now” while chanting for equal rights for the 12,500 service members who have been dismissed from the military based on sexual orientation.

“It is pretty motivating to have so many people show up,” Belok said. “I think as long as we continue the momentum until March 13 [a major national rally on the issue] . then we can really change something.”

Komo said that Belok’s story, which has been featured on local news stations and in newspapers including The Washington Post, has helped raise awareness.

“We got the attention of GW, Georgetown, American and the greater D.C. area,” Komo said. “It went over very smoothly. I’m very pleased.”

One of the speakers, David Hall from the Service Members’ Legal Defense Network, shared a personal story of discrimination.

Hall served in the Air Force before attending college and joined ROTC in Alaska after his tour in hopes of becoming an officer, he told the crowd.

“I was ranked No. 1 in my class until another female cadet told our officers that I was gay,” Hall said. “So now, instead of flying planes, I’m flying a desk at SLDN, trying to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ “

Student Association Executive Vice President Kyle Boyer, a candidate for SA president, came to support the student organization.

“I came out to support some of my friends and to support the community that has and is currently supporting me,” said Boyer, who received the Allied in Pride endorsement earlier this semester. “They are out here to make a bigger statement about the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and I’m here to stand with them.”

The crowd was not exclusively GW students. After reaching out to local universities, Komo said many expressed interest in participating in the protest, including a GUPride, a gay rights group from Georgetown.

“GUPride heard about the protest through Allied in Pride and saw the articles in The Hoya and The Hatchet,” said the co-chair of GU Pride, Joseph Graumann. “We thought it was really important that we came out to support this issue. A lot of people were really angered about it on our campus.”

The students who attended the protest said they were aware that the University has not taken action against ROTC for violating the University’s nondiscrimination policy because of the threat to its federal funding, but still voiced a need for greater support for LGBTQ issues at GW.

“We need to have a meeting, one on one, with the head of the administration because the community is very upset by the minimalist response from the University on an issue that is very emotional,” said sophomore Joe Goldman.

Goldman said he will meet with University President Steven Knapp this week to discuss gay rights issues on campus and to ask him and all upper-level administrators to participate in “safe zone training,” a course designed to provide a basic understanding of LGBTQ issues and how to support them.

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