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Petitions and statements criticizing LeBlanc, calling for resignation

Hatchet File Photo
LeBlanc said that about 3 percent of the University’s investments are connected to the fossil fuel industry in a video that surfaced Saturday.

Updated: Oct. 2, 2020 at 2:09 p.m.

Students, faculty, staff and alumni have launched more than a dozen petitions, letters and statements calling for University President Thomas LeBlanc to resign or reverse recent financial decisions.

Tensions between LeBlanc and faculty have been rising for months, with some calling for his resignation in February before the pandemic reached the District. As officials move to lay off hundreds of employees, hundreds of faculty, staff, students and alumni have signed onto statements criticizing LeBlanc and administrators in recent days.

Several petitions cite an analogy LeBlanc made in February likening fossil fuel divestment to shooting “all the Black people here.” Other calls for resignation reference the University’s partnership with the Disney Institute, a disgraced Michigan State University official’s hiring and a proposed enrollment cut, which has been put on hold due to the pandemic.

This post will be updated as new petitions, statements and letters are released.

Progressive Student Union statement
Date posted: Feb. 5
Rationale: Racially insensitive analogy, GW’s affiliation with the Regulatory Studies Center
Demands: LeBlanc’s resignation

Faculty Association petition
Date posted: Feb. 26
Rationale: Strategic plan, Disney Institute partnership, racially insensitive analogy
Signatories: 122 faculty and 174 students, alumni and staff
Demands: LeBlanc’s resignation

Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies alumni letter
Date posted: August
Rationale: Layoffs, furloughs, a “forgotten” commitment to the University’s seven common values
Signatories: Nearly 50 WGSS alumni
Demands: “Reconsideration” of budget and retract furloughs, layoffs and retirement contribution suspension

Open letter to Faculty Senate executive committee
Date posted: August
Rationale: “Lack of shared governance,” “culture of secrecy,” “lack of commitment” to GW’s teaching and research mission, layoffs, Heather Swain hiring, temporary reduction of benefits
Signatories: 196 faculty
Demands: Vote of no-confidence in LeBlanc by senate executive committee.

Student Association statements
Date posted: Aug. 13 and 15
Rationale: Heather Swain hiring, layoffs
Demands: Additional transparency about Swain hiring process, halt layoffs

Columbian College of Arts and Sciences letter
Date posted: Aug. 18
Rationale: Layoffs, not increasing payout from endowment, Thurston Hall renovation
Signatories: CCAS department chairs, program heads and directors
Demands: Implementation of Faculty Senate executive committee financial mitigation recommendations, increase endowment payout, tap reserve funds, use line of credit before layoffs, “revisit” human resources procedures, follow “progressive model” for salary cuts

#GWDeservesBetter petition
Date posted: Aug. 24
Rationale: Heather Swain hiring, career center and IT layoffs, retirement contribution suspension, strategic plan, 20/30 Plan, Disney Institute partnership
Signatories: 228 faculty, 137 students, 32 staff and 43 alumni
Demands: A president with “compassion” and a “clear moral compass”

School of Business letter
Date posted: Aug. 31
Rationale: “Lack of transparency,” layoffs, IT restructuring
Signatories: 55 faculty, including senate executive committee Chair Arthur Wilson, and seven staff
Demands: Administrators “put on hold” recent financial decisions

GW Black Defiance petition
Date launched: Sept. 2
Rationale: Strategic plan, fossil fuel policies, layoffs, Disney Institute partnership, Heather Swain hiring, racially-insensitive analogy
Signatories: More than 800 people
Demands: LeBlanc’s resignation

GW College Democrats statement
Date posted: Sept. 7
Rationale: Heather Swain hiring, 20/30 Plan, racially-insensitive analogy
Demands: LeBlanc’s resignation

Sunrise GW statement
Date posted: Sept. 9
Rationale: Layoffs, 20/30 Plan, Disney Institute partnership, racially-insensitive analogy, Heather Swain, GW’s affiliation with the Regulatory Studies Center
Demands: LeBlanc and entire Board of Trustees’ resignation

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences letter
Date posted: Unknown
Signatories: All nine SEAS associate deans and department chairs
Rationale: “Lost” trust, “recent actions” by administrators
Demands: Communicate “earlier” about major actions, “respect” SEAS’ local knowledge of internal operations, “empathize” with people affected by financial decisions

Persist GW statement
Date posted: Sept. 13
Rationale: Strategic plan, racially-insensitive analogy, Heather Swain hiring, layoffs
Demands: LeBlanc’s resignation

Student Association president – abrogated by SA Senate
Date posted: Sept. 21
Signatories: SA President Howard Brookins
Rationale: Fundraising efforts, layoffs, retirement contribution suspension, Heather Swain hiring, racially-insensitive analogy, 20/30 Plan
Demands: LeBlanc’s resignation, addition of student, staff and faculty voting members on Board of Trustees

Student Association Senate resolution – endorsed by 41 student organizations
Date passed: Sept. 30
Rationale: Heather Swain hiring, 20/30 Plan, racially insensitive analogy, inauguration cost, donation levels, end of fixed tuition policy, strategic planning process
Demands: LeBlanc’s resignation

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