George Washington University Temporarily Suspends Pro-Palestinian Student Group

Students for Justice in Palestine was suspended over its messages regarding the Israel–Hamas war.
George Washington University Temporarily Suspends Pro-Palestinian Student Group
The campus of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., on May 7, 2020. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
Aldgra Fredly

George Washington (GW) University in Washington, D.C. has temporarily suspended its Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter following the group's projection of anti-Israel messages onto the campus library last month.

The university told the student newspaper GW Hatchet on Nov. 14 that SJP was barred from participating in campus activities for three months and from posting communications on its property until May 20, 2024.

GW found that SJP had violated university policies by projecting messages onto the Gelman Library on Oct. 24, which included "GW the blood of Palestine is on your hands" and "Your tuition is funding genocide in Gaza."

The temporary suspension will take effect immediately, according to GW.

"SJP cannot sponsor or organize on-campus activities on university property or use university facilities, including indoor and outdoor spaces available for reservation through the university; this prohibition is in effect for the next 90 days," it stated.

"After 90 days, there will be continued restrictions around SJP's use of university facilities and hosted activities through the end of the academic year," the university added.

An SJP representative said the group was disappointed but not surprised by GW's decision, saying that the university has shown "unwavering support" for Zionist students on campus, GW Hatchet reported.

"GW can continue to try their repressive tactics, they can continue to try to suppress our movement," the representative told the newspaper. "But that movement will continue regardless."

University President Ellen Granberg has said that students, faculty, and staff have the right to express their views and be vocal but "must do so within the boundaries of the law and our university policies."

"These images included antisemitic phrases that have caused fear and anxiety for many members of our Jewish and broader GW community, and we wholly denounce this type of conduct," she stated on Oct. 25.

Ms. Granberg also said that SJP's messages did not contribute to "the environment of rigorous debate and discussions" expected in GW. She added that officials had immediately removed the projections.

“Despite our many differences, we are one GW community, and we must stand united against antisemitism and Islamophobia, as well as all forms of harassment, discrimination, and violence,” she added.

Israel–Hamas War Sparks Protests

The ongoing Israel–Hamas war in Gaza, sparked by Hamas's Oct. 7 deadly terror attack on Israeli border communities, has triggered protests and debates at some U.S. universities.
 Columbia students participate in a rally in support of Palestine at the university in New York City, on Oct. 12, 2023. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Columbia students participate in a rally in support of Palestine at the university in New York City, on Oct. 12, 2023. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Columbia University last week suspended its SJP and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) chapters, citing repeated violations of university policies related to campus protests calling for a ceasefire in the war.

The suspension means that the two groups are no longer eligible to hold events on campus or receive funding from the university.

However, the university said the suspension could be lifted if they demonstrate a commitment to compliance with university policies and engage in consultations with officials at the leadership level.

Some chapters of SJP have faced accusations of endorsing Hamas explicitly and employing anti-Semitic slogans, drawing criticism from politicians. JVP identifies itself as a Jewish "anti-Zionist" organization, a political stance viewed by some as anti-Semitic.

Florida's university system, in consultation with Gov. Ron DeSantis, has also demanded that SJP be "deactivated" on campus, citing its support for Hamas's terrorism.

State University System Chancellor Ray Rodrigues said on Oct. 24 that SJP had released a toolkit that refers to Hamas's attack as "resistance" and claims "Palestinian students in exile are part of this movement, not in solidarity with this movement."

Mr. Rodrigues said there are at least two universities with active SJP chapters, but he did not specify which universities or if there would be any repercussions if they failed to comply with the order.

Caden Pearson and Bill Pan contributed to this report.