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Live coverage: ‘Liberation zone’ retains numbers heading into day six

Colin Wagner | Staff Photographer

Editor’s note: This article includes The Hatchet’s live coverage of the sixth day of the University Yard encampment. For live coverage of day seven, click here.

More than 100 tents stretch across University Yard and H Street as pro-Palestinian protesters prepare for a sixth day of demonstrations.  

A calm energy settled over the encampment Monday with limited programming and unrestricted access to U-Yard. Organizers spent the day reaffirming their demands for officials at universities in the D.C. area, hosting musical performers and conducting safety trainings for protesters. 

Demonstrators are now able to migrate freely between the U-Yard and H Street encampments after protesters tore down the barricades and placed them in a pile in the center of the lawn Sunday night. The removal of barriers sparked increased police presence in the area and prompted organizers to add safety trainings to daily programming to prevent mass panic and escalation from officers. 

The coalition of demonstrators, comprised of students from universities in the DMV area, restated Monday their intent to remain in the encampments until officials meet their outlined demands — that each represented university drop all charges against pro-Palestinian protesters and student organizations, protect free speech on campus, divest from companies supplying technology and arms to Israel, disclose all endowments and investments and end academic partnerships with Israel.

Follow along with live updates below:

Colin Wagner | Staff Photographer

Updated 3:05 a.m. — Protesters drift to sleep in dew drop-adorned encampment

Protesters are quietly wrapping up day six, the second day of the encampment since protesters broke down the barricade Sunday night. About 20 people are awake in the H Street encampment, grabbing items from the supply canopies and standing in groups talking. In the middle of four tents in U-Yard, the bright screen of a laptop lights a student’s face as she sits in a lawn chair completing assignments. 

At 2:55 a.m. police presence in U-Yard is composed entirely of GWPD officers, with three officers sitting in front of Lisner Hall and three officers standing guard on the Stockton Hall patio. Security had outnumbered GWPD officers since Saturday night, but no security guards are visible in the encampment Wednesday morning.

Updated 12:40 a.m. — Congressman calls for hearing on lack of MPD action

At 2:28 p.m. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) posted a video on X, formerly known as Twitter, calling on Congress to hold a hearing about D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s refusal of GW administrator’s requests to send the Metropolitan Police Department to the encampment. 

“We’re asking the chairman if we can have a hearing tomorrow or the next few days to get to the bottom of that,” Burchett said. 

Burchett said the issue was brought up to him by a member “across the aisle” and that this was a bipartisan issue. 

Updated 11:50 p.m. — Demonstrators listen to music, mingle as rain ebbs

As the rain slows to intermittent drops, about 20 protesters eat off of paper plates under canopies lining H Street and watch a musician sing and strum a string instrument while another musician drums on an overturned bucket. About 5 protesters clap along to the music. 

Within the encampment, some demonstrators trickle out of their tents to mingle with others nearby.

Updated 11:22 p.m. — Rain falls on the encampment

Demonstrators gathered around a screen at the center of University Yard to watch the documentary “Gaza Fights for Freedom” — a film about the Great March of Return where 195 people were killed— when rain began to pour and lightning flashed. At about 11:05 p.m. demonstrators stopped the movie and moved into tents to stay dry.

Demonstrators can be seen walking around the yard with blankets and umbrellas over their heads. Others are wearing ponchos, which organizers are providing at the center of U-Yard. 

Earlier in the evening, organizers had urged those in tents to offer shelter to others and talked about repurposing items, like tarps and tents used to store items for arts and crafts, for shelter in the case of heavy rain. 

Updated 10:38 p.m. — MPD officers stationed outside of University President Ellen Granberg’s house

One Metropolitan Police Department van with two officers is stationed in front of F Street House, the residence of University President Ellen Granberg. One officer remains inside the van while another stands outside by the stairs to the front door. The van was first seen outside of F Street House Tuesday morning.

Updated 9:37 p.m. — Demonstrators listen to lecture on protesters’ rights and police jurisdiction 

Demonstrators gathered around the center of University Yard as representatives of Harriett’s Wildest Dreams, a Black-led abolitionist community defense organization, gave a lecture about the different types of police safety at protests and demonstrations. A representative urged attendees to gather around the circle and talked about the history of modern-day policing including its roots in slave patrols during slavery.

“What the police are doing right now, they’re not new to it, they’re true to it,” the representative said.

The representative said D.C. has over 40 police agencies and that the District has the most police officers per resident than any other city in the country. The representative repeatedly said MPD has jurisdiction over public property but cannot come onto GW’s private property unless called by the administration. In an email Sunday, University President Ellen Granberg said H Street is “neither controlled or maintained” by GW and is public property controlled by the Metropolitan Police Department.

“Shame on your administration if they ask for MPD to come on your campus,” the representative said.

Another representative talked about how demonstrators have a right to film the police if they’re being harassed or things escalate. The representative said police can’t go through the contents of your phone without a warrant.

The representatives had an information sheet for demonstrators to scan on their phones with information about each of the local D.C. police departments.

Another representative gave tips on how to “cop watch.” The representative told demonstrators to hold their phones close to their bodies when recording and to step back and continue recording if a police officer says move back. 

The representative told students to always note license plates and police officer badge numbers.

“You need that information if you’re trying to keep track of somebody,” the representative said.

Updated: 7:26 p.m. — Senator calls on Bowser to reverse DC’s refusal to clear encampment

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) sent a letter to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser Tuesday calling on her office to reverse its Friday decision to avoid clearing the encampment. 

“Whether it is due to incompetence or sympathy for the cause of these Hamas supporters, you are failing to protect the rights of law-abiding citizens by letting a terrorist-supporting mob take over a large area of a university,” the letter reads. “Your actions are a good reminder of why Washington, D.C. must never become a state.” 

Cotton and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) urged President Joe Biden to deploy the National Guard to the encampment at Columbia University last week. Cotton wrote a heavily criticized op-ed in the New York Times in June 2020 that advocated to send the National Guard into the Black Lives Matter protests across the country.

Updated: 6:49 p.m. — Professors hold a teach-in

Organizers invited brothers Usamma Makdisi, a professor of history at the University of California-Berkeley, and Saree Makdisi, a professor and the chair of the English department at the University of California-Los Angeles, to give a teach-in at the center of University Yard.

The teach-in started with a short introduction from the Makdisi brothers followed by a question and answer session.

One member of the crowd asked what the immediate impact would be if GW and other universities were to divest from companies supplying technology and arms to Israel. In response, Usamma said divestment would close off Israel’s access to weapons because the state needs U.S. support to continue their attacks on Gaza.

“They fundamentally need American support to do what it is they want to do,” Usamma said. “Divestment represents the beginning of a change in that attitude, and a change in those structures is the fundamental change in the structures of power.” 

After UCLA students launched a pro-Palestinian encampment on the university’s campus last week, the school’s officials rejected student demands to divest from firms that do business with Israel and boycott academic relationships with the state. Saree said UCLA has a website which outlines a 1980s student-led movement that demanded the school’s officials divest from companies that worked with the apartheid government in South Africa. 

In 1986, UC Regents voted to divest $3.1 billion from those companies, at the time the largest university divestment in the country. 

“They have a whole page glorifying the role that the University of California played in the South African divestment campaign in the 1980s,” Saree said. “So clearly, they think divestment does work.”

GW officials have not publicly responded to students’ demands for divestment from Israel. In 2020, officials committed to eliminating investments in fossil fuel companies by 2025 following years of pressure from students.

Usamma and Saree said understanding the history of the creation of the states in the Middle East when conversing about Palestine is critical. They said the pursuit of justice, no matter the issue, always involves struggle, and infusing historical context can guide these conversations. 

As an English professor, Saree said he has long been interested in the interpretation of words. He said words have different meanings depending on who is saying them, citing the popular pro-Palestinian chant “from the river to the sea” as an example. Saree said claims that the phrase is antisemitic erases the meaning pro-Palestinian people have attached to it.

“What the other side of this debate is trying to say is they have a monopoly on what that phrase means,” Saree said. “But what we’re trying to say is, ‘No, that’s not how it works.’ When you use a word, you get to choose what it means.”

Following the teach-in, organizers commenced chants after nearly four hours of quiet, including “It’s not complicated, Gaza will be liberated,” “Money for schools and education, not for war and education,” “GW is painted red, over 40,000 dead,” and “How many Gazans have to die before you hear their freedom cry?” 

Updated: 6:49 p.m. — Foxx on letter to officials

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), who demanded Tuesday that D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Metropolitan Police Department explain why the city rejected GW’s calls to clear GW’s encampment, said she hopes the mayor “does the right thing” and sweeps the encampment.

In a letter sent to D.C. police and Bowser — co-signed by Foxx and Rep. James Comer (R-KY), who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability — the pair wrote that if MPD does not act, Congress will be “obligated to exercise its legislative powers to do so.”

“Chairman Comer and I are talking about what to do next,” Foxx told a reporter for The Hatchet outside the House floor. She didn’t explicitly say what actions they may take.

She added, “D.C. comes under the authority of the Oversight Committee, so that’s what we’re talking here.”

She said lawmakers believe the mayor rejected GW’s request for MPD to clear the encampment, referring to a Washington Post report Friday. District officials, the Post’s story states, reportedly declined to remove the protest because it had remained peaceful and because they worried about the optics of removing peaceful protesters. 

“That’s not the way it should be,” Foxx said. “If you got people breaking the law, then law enforcement should take action.” 

A spokesperson for Foxx did not immediately return a request for further comment.

Updated: 5:06 p.m. — District, GW officials to meet in person today, mayor’s office says

A spokesperson for D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office said her office scheduled a meeting between D.C. officials and University officials Tuesday, but did not specify when the meeting would be or who would attend.

“We continue to be in communication with GW officials, including an in-person meeting today,” the spokesperson said in an email at 4:33 p.m. 

The mayor’s spokesperson declined to comment on what input Bowser’s office plans to give to University President Ellen Granberg and other school officials over D.C.’s handling of the encampment. A University spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.

The Washington Post reported on Friday afternoon that senior officials in the mayor’s office and MPD refused GW’s request to clear the encampment early that morning due to concerns over public perception. Universities across the country have asked local police to clear encampments on school property, often leading to the arrests of students, faculty and other demonstrators. 

The spokesperson also declined to say if directives to the Metropolitan Police Department on its operations regarding the encampment will come straight from Bowser.

“We support peaceful protests, and I rely on the Metropolitan Police Department and their experience and expertise to decide what types of interventions are necessary,” Bowser said in a statement. “Of course, we will not tolerate violence of any kind; we will monitor and ensure access to streets, parks, and safe and sanitary conditions; and we will continue to be supportive of universities or other private entities who need help.”

Updated: 3:47 p.m. — Republicans press Bowser, MPD on why they did not clear encampment

The Republican heads of two congressional committees wrote a letter to top D.C. officials demanding to know why D.C. police reportedly refused to shut down the GW pro-Palestinian encampment. 

Reps. Virginia Foxx and James Comer — who chair the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and the Committee on Oversight and Accountability, respectively — wrote that they were “alarmed” by the Metropolitan Police Department’s reported refusal to clear the encampment. The letter, addressed to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and MPD Chief Pamela Smith, demands the pair answer questions about officials’ handling of the encampment.

A spokesperson for Bowser did not immediately return a request for comment. MPD did not immediately return a request for comment. 

The Republican lawmakers wrote MPD’s reported refusal to clear the encampment hinders GW’s attempts at protecting Jewish students on campus — the pair called the protesters “radical, antisemitic, and unlawful.” The letter demands both parties answer questions about why the calls were declined before May 9, a day before the last day of final exams.

“It is deeply disturbing that while GWU has attempted to take concrete measures to protect the safety of its Jewish student body from persecution and harassment, it is hindered by the MPD’s refusal to provide assistance clearing out the encampment, over fears of public criticism,” the letter states.

The letter comes one day after an alleged arrest attempt caused demonstrators to knock down the barricades that enclosed the encampments on University Yard.

The letter continues to state that the inaction of MPD and D.C. is “out of sync” with other police departments and local governments across the country. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protestors have been arrested since encampments and protests in solidarity for people in Gaza erupted throughout the nation.  

The pair of Republicans reiterated that the Committee on Oversight and Accountability has legislative authority over D.C. in “all cases” and that if MPD does not act, Congress will be “obligated to exercise its legislative powers to do so.”

“This is a pivotal moment for Washington, D.C.’s leaders,” the letter reads. “We call on you to answer fully for the reluctance to enforce the law. In the event you do not, Congress will take the necessary actions to ensure this failure will not be repeated.”

On Tuesday, GW for Israel launched a petition calling on MPD to remove all “violent and antisemitic agitators.” During the encampment, signs reading “Students will leave when Israelis leave,” and “Students will go back home when Israelis go back to Europe, US, etc (their real homes)” have been called out by Jewish on Campus, a national organization focused on raising awareness to antisemitism on college campuses. A Friday New York Post story detailed reactions to a sign that stated “Final Solution” accompanied by Israeli and Palestinian flags that was carried by an older man who does not appear to be a student. 

For the past six days, the encampments have remained largely peaceful, with a few isolated verbal confrontations between counterprotesters and demonstrators. Throughout the week, organizers hosted an array of cultural events, including a Shabbat dinner with Jewish Voices for Peace and a cultural show and tell with demonstrators from places like Hawaii and Puerto Rico expressing their solidarity. 

Late Sunday night, after police detained and then released a student inside the U-Yard encampment, students tore down GW barricades around U-Yard. They piled them into the center of the encampment, where they rallied into early Monday morning. On Monday, U-Yard was calm, with more than a hundred people in the encampment attending teach-ins, talking in small groups in the grass and drawing with chalk on the ground.

In 2017, D.C. paid $1.6 million to settle lawsuits against the District for the excessive use of force by MPD officers on protesters during the 2017 inauguration of former President Donald Trump. In February 2023, three protestors sued MPD over its use of nonlethal weapons during Black Lives Matter protests in 2020.

Updated: 3:17 p.m. — Coalition rejects GW claims about Sunday night detainment

The Student Coalition for Palestine at GWU and the DMV Students for Justice in Palestine contested GW’s claim that officers did not attempt to arrest a protester late Sunday night.

In an Instagram post on Tuesday morning, organizers said a student in the U-Yard encampment, which was barricaded off at the time, was sitting in a chair “vacated” by a GWPD officer, leading to them being “detained under false pretenses.” In a release Monday morning, GW officials rejected allegations that officers tried to arrest the student, instead claiming the student was “being escorted out” by GWPD officers after they tried to jump over the barricade between U-Yard and H Street. 

The Hatchet was unable to confirm if a student jumped the barricade Sunday night. The student detained by GWPD officers, as seen in videos shared by organizers on Telegram and Instagram, was present inside the encampment in the days leading up to students tearing the barricades down.

“While claiming that well-documented reports are false, GWPD has not presented any evidence or eyewitness accounts showing that the student jumped over the barricade,” the coalition’s post states.

While GWPD officers held the student by his arms inside the U-Yard, hundreds of protesters inside and outside of the barricade surrounded officers, chanting, “Let him go.” The student was then released. 

“The community’s ability to intervene in that violence is the nature of the liberation zone we have created,” the post states.

Updated: 2:40 p.m. — Faculty call on GW to reverse student suspensions

More than 100 faculty have signed a statement urging GW to rescind the suspensions on students “peacefully camping” in University Yard. 

The statement urges an end to requests for the Metropolitan Police Department to come to campus or for MPD or the GW Police Department to arrest any students. The statement advises officials to set up a meeting to listen to students’ demands “directly and in person.”  

The statement asks for faculty members’ names if they wish to provide it, but if not, encourages them to write “anonymous” and their position at the University. 

“We recognize that civil disobedience is undertaken with knowledge that there are consequences for such actions,” the statement reads. “Yet, we as a university have choices about how to respond.”

Daniel Heuer | Staff Photographer

Updated 2:11 p.m. — GW for Israel calls for clearing of encampment

GW for Israel posted to Instagram this morning urging community members to sign a petition addressed to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Metropolitan Police Department Chief of Police Pamela Smith calling for the “swift removal” of all “violent and antisemitic agitators from GW’s campus.” 

The post states that the encampment in U-Yard has become home to “virulent” antisemitic chants, rhetoric, posters and actions and that the encampment “incites violence.” The post said the encampment poses a direct threat to Jewish and Israeli students that must be addressed “urgently.”

GW for Israel Vice President Sean Shekhman said the petition has amassed more than 320 signatures in 2 hours.

“Many Jews, Israelis and Zionists who have entered the encampment report being spat at, screamed at, followed, recorded and physically threatened,” the post reads. “Jewish students have been physically blocked from entering University Yard. The bullying, harassment and threats toward Jewish students constitute hate crimes that are not protected by the First Amendment.”  

The post said student speech that is productive, non-threatening and non-disruptive to academics should be welcomed and encouraged on campus. The post said these qualifications are not the case with the encampment in U-Yard, and it calls on Bowser to act to “ensure the security of all D.C. residents by swiftly removing all protestors engaged in violent and antisemitic activity.” 

GW for Israel is collecting signatures via Google Form, which the organization said will remain anonymous, except to Bowser and Smith. The form asks for the signer’s name if they wish to provide it, their role within the community, university affiliation, academic school within that university and graduation year.

Shekhman said he thinks the encampment protests have crossed the line into a non-peaceful demonstration. He said he doesn’t think the police have intervened enough to keep the protests calm and compliant with University policy. 

He said signs with phrases like “Students will go back home when Israelis go back to Europe, U.S., etc. (their real homes)” and chants like “Intifada revolution, there is only one solution” are antisemitic and have caused him to feel scared and helpless as a Jewish student at GW. He added that he talked to someone he knew at the encampment who didn’t know what an intifada was, although the individual was participating in the chants.

He said the GWI petition serves to educate community members on the second intifada.

“We didn’t have the opportunity beforehand to properly educate as many people as we wished and now our goal with the letter is to try to use that as a way to educate as many students sort of after the fact,” Shekhman said.

He said GWI’s petition calls on Bowser and MPD to remove people from the encampment who are unaffiliated with GW and intervene when protests are no longer peaceful. He pointed to the overrun of the barricades as an example of a non-peaceful demonstration, as well as chants calling for an intifada.

Shekhman said he fully believes in the right to free speech and does not take issue with students peacefully protesting against the Israeli government and calling for an end to the war in Gaza. He added that as a rule, he also does not support mass arrests.

“It’s all about protecting Jewish students on campus,” Shekhman said. “And while there are non-GW students protesting on U-Yard and calling for an Intifada, no Jewish student can reasonably feel safe.”

Updated 1:40 p.m. — Food donations flow in for encampment demonstrators

Demonstrators said they are receiving donations from restaurants, aid organizations and from individual donors for the encampment’s food tents, which are separated into two tents for perishable and nonperishable items.

Organizers at the nonperishable tent said they are receiving the majority of the food from individual donors and mutual aid networks in D.C. Organizers manning the perishable tent said they were receiving donations from restaurants across the D.C. region, but said they didn’t know which restaurants had been donating.  

Updated 12: 14 p.m. — Kogan Plaza remains cordoned off, students dissent 

Kogan Plaza remained fenced off Tuesday morning as protests continue down the block.

All entrances to Kogan have been closed since Friday, with the exception of one path connecting H Street to Gelman Library, which remains open to students. The University issued a GW Advisory Sunday restating that Kogan Plaza would remain closed, along with University Yard, the garage adjacent to the School of Media & Public Affairs and the stretch of H Street between 20th and 21st Streets. 

More than seven security guards lined the H Street entrance to Kogan Tuesday morning, with three guards along 21st Street and two stationed at the 22 street entrance. Signs on the doors of Gelman say the library is restricted to GWorld Card holders only, directing students to call the library’s front desk if they are unable to tap into the building. 

Students have taken to the anonymous discussion page Fizz to voice their opinions on the closure of the plaza, some pointing out the inconvenience as finals near.

“Plz no i gotta study in gelman plz respect those who are just trying to pass finals and not lose their scholarships,” one anonymous user posted.

Other users urged students to “unite” and “mobilize” to break down the barricades surrounding the plaza.

“Seeing what you all just accomplished tonight I think we can reopen Kogan ourselves,” one user wrote, referring to the hundreds of protesters who overran the barricades containing U-Yard Sunday night.

Responding to comments asking for Kogan to be reopened, some users have voiced support for the plaza’s closure. 

“There are students dying that don’t get to study or go to class ever again, you’ll be okay. We are all privileged enough to even be here. There are also plenty of other spots to study,” an anonymous user said. 

Updated 11:32 a.m. — Catholic demonstrators call for ceasefire, stand with encampment demonstrators

A group of seven people holding signs with messages like “Catholics say ceasefire now” and “Condemn collective punishment” stationed themselves outside the central entrance to U-Yard for roughly ten minutes, and sang statements like “Seek peace and pursue it,” “No US weapons to Israel” and “Support the GW encampment.”

“Courage, Muslim brothers, we seek your liberty,” the group sang. “We will stand with you until we all are free.”

Laurie Gagne, a theology professor at St. Michael’s College in Vermont and a member of the group, said she visited Palestine in 2018 and saw that Palestinians are “greatly oppressed.” She said since then, she has taught her students to be critical and challenge the government to take a “moral stance” on issues around the world.

“I came down as a professor to support you students, because this is exactly what I taught my students to do,” Gagne said. 

Updated 11:22 a.m. — GW Disabled Students Collective condemns denial of medical attention in encampment

The GW Disabled Students Collective posted a statement on Instagram Monday evening condemning the University’s denial of medical needs for disabled and nondisabled students in the U-Yard encampment. 

The post called on University President Ellen Granberg and Dean of Students Colette Coleman to apologize to students for barring medical personnel from entering the barricaded U-Yard, reverse the reported student suspensions to protect their access to campus housing and meal plans, allow bathroom access in the encampment without requiring students to reveal their identities and call off all police from the encampment. The post states that GW must prioritize the health and safety of student demonstrators while also protecting their civil liberties.

“It is abhorrent to us that students’ medical needs and rights are being denied for their participation in a peaceful protest,” the post reads. 

The post states that only one medic was allowed into the U-Yard encampment without reentry while it was barricaded, and that GWPD would not allow them to swap out with another medic when they had been on shift for 60 hours. The post states GW Police Department officers said their officers are CPR-trained and that allowing access to an unknown individual would have been a safety hazard.

“One student had a medical emergency and the medics outside the encampment took her vitals, gave her medicine, and assessed her situation over a metal barricade, all while GWPD watched,” the post reads.

DSC writes that taking away food and housing from suspended students contributes to the “deterioration” of their health. They said without a meal plan, halal and kosher food options are less accessible.

Protesters set up a bathroom tent with buckets in the encampment Thursday, and the post states that one insulin-dependant diabetic demonstrator was forced to change their insulin in the tent with no running water, adequate lighting or table space. Other students are menstruating and cannot ensure proper hygiene, the post states.

“These students are faced with the choice of — in some cases — life-saving medication/sanitized tables or suspension,” the post reads.

The post states that students are facing excessive stress and anxiety because of police presence near the encampment. DSC writes that students have been woken up multiple times during the night when they thought threats of arrest were becoming more imminent. 

The post says stress and lack of sleep can worsen symptoms for students with disabilities, like one student with epilepsy who expressed “frustration and disgust with the oppressive structure facilitated by administration.”

The post states that people in Gaza live in worse conditions than student protesters because of scare food, water and medical attention access. DSC said that the group condemns GW’s financial ties with companies supplying weapons to Israel, “aiding in the mass disabling and killing.”

“The University claims to support disabled students, but what about disabled students inside the encampment exercising free speech?” the post reads. “What about the disabled students in Gaza who have no access to education, medicine, or food?” 

Arwen Clemans | Staff Photographer

Updated 8:00 a.m. — Graduate students pen letter in support of encampment

More than 100 graduate students from universities across the D.C. region, with more than half of them from GW, penned a letter in support of the student encampment, urging the University to support and allow free expression on campus. 

The letter calls on officials to meet with student protesters in person and endorses the students’ demands for the University to drop its alleged charges against pro-Palestinian student demonstrators, divest from companies with ties to Israel and disclose all of its endowments and investments. The letter states that the signatories condemn any move by the University to restrict access to campus spaces or shut down student gatherings. 

“The enclosure and intimidation of student encampments only highlights the ways that universities police and limit not only who gets access to higher education but also how students are allowed to employ the knowledge they have gained,” the letter reads. 

The letter states that its signatories condemn the suspension of students engaging in peaceful political activity and that they are appalled by GW’s refusal of bathroom access to demonstrators in the U-Yard encampment. Officials have said the Corcoran Hall bathroom continues to be accessible to protesters, but organizers said the University revoked their access to bathrooms.

Protesters set up a bathroom tent with buckets on the first day of the encampment Thursday. Organizers said protesters don’t have access to the bathroom tent when Western Market’s public bathrooms are open Monday to Thursday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

The letter states that student encampment protests across the country are anchored in a “clear moral compass” in the face of Israel’s mass killing of Palestinians in Gaza and other acts condemned by the International Court of Justice. The students write that officials have a responsibility to campus community members to defend peaceful protesters, uphold academic freedom and reject pressures to criminalize encampments. 

“Let us not forget that these protests are dedicated, first and foremost, to the cessation of violence and human rights abuses against Palestinians–while the media covers these protests, we direct their eyes to Rafah,” the letter reads. 

Updated: 6:55 a.m. — Chalk messages evolve

Messages in chalk have coated H Street and the bricks of U-Yard since the second day of the encampment. 

As rain and hoses washed away original messages over the last few days, demonstrators have continued to color the concrete with drawings of watermelons and messages like “Protect students,” “People’s university for Gaza” and “Resist with love.” 

On the pillars of the School of Media and Public Affairs building, “Joe Biden kills kids,” which appeared on Saturday, has since been replaced by “Food not bombs,” and drawings of a flower and a fist grasping a carrot. “Your tuition funds genocide,” which demonstrators added to the side of pillar closest to U-Yard Friday night, has been replaced with “Disclose divest” and “We will not stop.”

Fiona Riley

Updated: 6:29 a.m. — The sun rises and protesters begin to wake 

The sky lightens and protesters asleep on picnic blankets are beginning to stir. A humid air settles over the encampment and temperatures fell to 65 degrees overnight, a drop from the 90 degree heat on Monday. 

A few demonstrators are roaming the encampment barefoot, dragging their mats, pillows and sleeping bags from the grass into tents. Two hammocks are hung between lamp posts but remain vacant. 

A pair of ducks waddle through the bushes in front of Corcoran Hall as birds chirp and three officers pace the perimeter of U-Yard.

This post has been updated to correct the following:

The Hatchet incorrectly referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability as the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. We regret this error. 

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