GW activists apologize for 'putting black students in harm's way'
The organizers of a recent anti-Trump walkout by George Washington University students are apologizing for “putting black students in harm’s way” with one of the many demands they issued earlier this month.
Earlier this month, student leaders from the Progressive Student Union, Fossil Free GW, Students for Justice in Palestine, Association of Queer Women and Allies, and other organizations led students in a march from GW’s campus to the White House, where they issued an ultimatum to the school administration demanding action to counter policies advocated by Donald Trump during the presidential election campaign.
“We...would like to apologize for putting black students in harm’s way."
In addition to becoming a “sanctuary campus” that shields illegal immigrant students from deportation, the students also demanded that GW divest from fossil fuels, increase funding for mental health services, and provide additional resources for Muslim students.
The authors of the ultimatum, however, have come under friendly fire over one item on the list declaring that, because the Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Trump, “placing us in these officers’ care is an act of violence, especially for Black students.”
Instead, the document argues that GW should fulfill its responsibility to protect students by “dramatically increasing financial aid, emergency funds, health care resources, health insurance grants, and discretionary funds available to low-income students.”
Now, though, the authors are apologizing for that demand in an open letter posted on the Young Progressives Demanding Action GW Facebook page, saying the document was “rushed” to completion without adequate input from black student organizations.
“We...would like to apologize for putting black students in harm’s way,” the letter begins. “We have been told by black students at GW that black student organizations are receiving threats of violence over a particular demand regarding the placing [of] black students under the care of police in the Fraternal Order of Police.”
While accepting responsibility for the controversy, the student leaders explain that their “attempt to build solidarity on campus” was plagued by time constraints, causing black students to be “insufficiently represented” in the writing process.
“We should not have spoken for African American students and organizations especially when there was such a lack of representation of the community, and we should have made more effort to reach out to the black community on campus beforehand,” the apology continues. “We will never again compromise inclusion and quality for timeliness, especially since it can yield such troubling consequences.”
The specific threats of violence reportedly directed against black student organizations are not specified in the letter, nor were any particular organizations mentioned.
While the letter stated that the organizations were working on “reaching out to media as well as other bodies to clarify the situation,” requests for comment from Campus Reform went unanswered by the student groups.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @kara_kirsten