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Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

SJP, other pro-Palestinian groups face disciplinary proceedings: students

A+demonstrator+speaks+to+the+crowd+at+a+protest+against+GWs+reported+ties+to+Israel+on+Saturday.
Tanner Nally | Photographer
A demonstrator speaks to the crowd at a protest against GW’s reported ties to Israel on Saturday.

Students are alleging that officials charged pro-Palestinian student groups with misconduct, a move the groups claim is an act to silence pro-Palestinian activism.

Students claimed this weekend that Student Rights and Responsibilities officials accused Students for Justice in Palestine of violating the terms of its November suspension by participating in events hosted by the Student Coalition for Palestine, a group formed in direct response to SJP’s suspension. The officials also allegedly charged members of the newly formed coalition with community disturbance, disorderly conduct and noncompliance with GW’s policies.

The alleged charges are yet another point of contention between GW and pro-Palestinian student activists, who have demanded officials voice support for Palestinians and condemn Israel since the war in the Gaza Strip began in October.

University officials suspended SJP in November after members of the group projected anti-Israel messages onto Gelman Library. University spokesperson Julia Metjian did not return a request for comment on the conduct hearings or the content of the charges.

On Saturday and Sunday, students held a pair of protests to demand officials drop charges against SJP and the student coalition and ask GW to divest from Israel, a call that’s taken hold at universities across the country. The protesters declined to speak to The Hatchet due to “policy.” Pro-Palestinian students at GW and around the country have been retaliated against and doxxed for their beliefs and actions.

About 150 students gathered first at University Yard on Saturday to call for officials to drop all charges against the student organizations in the coalition and demand officials reinstate SJP. Students later demonstrated their support for members of the organizations attending the reported conduct hearing in a gathering on Sunday night.

Protesters spoke on behalf of nine student organizations at the pair of protests.

The students also demanded GW cut financial ties with ​​weapons companies and defense contractors supplying arms to Israel. One demonstrator, who read a statement on behalf of SJP, said GW is sending SJP to disciplinary proceedings for a second time because of the group’s alleged involvement in the coalition. It’s unclear when the disciplinary hearings were scheduled.

“Despite having made consistently clear that SJP is not a part of the Student Coalition for Palestine, the University has falsely accused SJP of involvement as a pretense for further attack on Palestinian political expression,” the demonstrator said.

The demonstrator said officials also told every organization currently associated with the coalition — at one point as many as a dozen student groups — that they would be sent to disciplinary proceedings for “unfounded” claims of misconduct on campus. The demonstrator then announced Sunday’s protest in Kogan Plaza to demand officials drop all charges against SJP and the student organizations involved in the coalition.

Demonstrators organized at about 1 p.m. in U-Yard on Saturday, holding signs that read “Long live Gaza, long live Palestine,” “Resistance is justice” and “Not in my name” — a movement of Jewish peace activists calling for a cease-fire. Some participants held up five banners reading “Divest from Zionist genocide,” “From the river to the sea,” “The youth carry the struggle forward,” “Students united will never be defeated” and “End the siege on Gaza.”

Representatives from nine student organizations spoke at the demonstration: the Arab, Muslim, Armenian and Asian American Student associations; the No Guns for GW Student Coalition; Socialist Action Initiative; Jewish Voice for Peace; GW Dissenters; and UndocuGW.

The demonstrator who read a statement on behalf of SJP said low attendance at “Dinner & Dialogue” — an ongoing four-part series of events for community members on University free speech policy and rhetoric hosted by officials — indicates that students do not believe University officials are committed to protecting free speech.

Only three students attended the first session held last week. Officials held a second session Monday.

Christy Anthony, the director of SRR, said during the first session that SJP’s projections classified as “vandalism” and thus were unprotected under GW’s free speech policy.

“These events have gone on with pathetically few attendees, from students who can see clearly the meaningless rhetoric from an administration who forces the oppression of one of the most vulnerable student populations on campus,” the demonstrator said.

It has been 119 days since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, which killed 1,139 Israelis. The Israeli military has killed about 27,131 Palestinians, most of whom are women and children, in retaliatory strikes since the attack.

A demonstrator speaking on behalf of the No Guns for GW Student Coalition said officials’ decision to arm select GW Police Department officers has not protected students from discrimination on campus. They said officials use armed officers for “oppression” and “intimidation” purposes at pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

At least four Metropolitan Police Department cars and four officers congregated at 21st and H streets Saturday.

“Since this plan was put in place these officers have absolutely and unsurprisingly failed to protect us,” the demonstrator said. “They failed to protect us from the doxxing trucks that showed up on our campus.”

In between speeches, organizers of the protest led students in various chants like “Granberg, Granberg, you’re a coward, we the students have the power,” “We pay your tuition, we fill your pockets, why are you funding Israel’s rockets” and “Free SJP.” Some students used homemade bucket drums to make noise.

Organizers encouraged participants on Instagram and at the demonstration to wear face coverings, with many demonstrators choosing keffiyehs — a traditional Arab head covering — to shield their mouths and faces from pictures that could lead to potential doxxing or identification.

University officials like GWPD Chief James Tate, Provost Chris Bracey, Dean of Students Colette Coleman and Assistant Dean of Student Life Brian Joyce observed the demonstration from the outskirts of U-Yard.

Sage Russell | Assistant Photo Editor

About 70 demonstrators gathered at 8 p.m. Sunday in Kogan Plaza while Student Coalition for Palestine members attended a meeting with SRR officials. Demonstrators repeated chants like “Suspended over a few projections, why won’t you listen to our objections” and “Israel bombs, GW pays, how many kids did you kill today?” while waving a Palestinian flag and banging pots and pans.

Demonstrators marched to the University Student Center, standing outside for the duration of the proceedings.

MPD vehicles blocked H Street from 21st to 22nd streets. Another MPD officer observed the demonstration on foot.

Five members of the Student Coalition for Palestine left the student center after two hours of SRR proceedings at about 10:15 p.m. to a crowd of cheering protesters.

One student in the proceedings said officials refused to acknowledge that the charges against them were “hateful.”

“They refuse to acknowledge that it has to do with our solidarity,” the student said. “They refuse to acknowledge their fascism.”

The student said the group would continue its advocacy amid the accusations of student misconduct.

“The accusations and the attempt to silence us will only make us louder,” the student said.

Erika Filter contributed reporting.

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