Planned mass demonstrations at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings next weekend will likely shut down Foggy Bottom, and some GW students will be taking part in the protest. With the possibility of demonstrators getting out of hand like they did at the December 1999 World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle, students should understand that their presence could only add to the potential for disorder. While students have the right to protest, they should exercise that right only if they feel strongly about issues being raised at the meetings and not demonstrate just for the sake of being part of something.
The University made a wise decision to close down for the period from Friday, April 14, at 10 p.m. through Tuesday, April 18, at 8 a.m. in an attempt to ensure the safety of students and facilities. Some rules, such as allowing residence hall access to only GW students, may seem harsh, but these rules are in the best interest of the University during a possible time of crisis.
A diverse coalition of labor advocates, environmentalists and just about any group that has been adversely effected by globalization will try to shut down the meetings this week. In Seattle, a similar coalition rioted, looting many of the buildings in the city’s downtown area. Every GW student should do his or her part ensure that what happened in Seattle does not happen in Foggy Bottom.
The protests pose a legitimate risk to the safety of students, and the University made a reasonable and necessary decision to close for the weekend. Students who don’t feel strongly about the issues that will be discussed at the meetings would be smart to stay away from the IMF and World Bank next weekend.