Classes to remain open for IMF protests

Campus will remain open during the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings, where protests are expected, at the end of this month, University officials said last week. Despite limited Metropolitan police funding and expectations that the Sept. 28 and 29 meetings could bring as many as 15,000 protesters into the city, officials said classes will go on as scheduled.

Last year the University acceded to an MPD request that GW close campus and shut down operations in anticipation of more than 30,000 demonstrators.

“In general terms we are more comfortable with the circumstances and planning this year,” University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said.

Trachtenberg said he has received no requests to close the school this year in order to help accommodate the meetings and protests.

“This year’s demonstrations seem to be more thoughtfully anticipated than last year’s,” Trachtenberg said. “September 11 has cast a shadow over all of these things.”

The IMF and World Bank headquarters, located on four blocks on 18th and 19th streets between H and F streets, are scheduled twice a year. One of the IMF buildings is located across from Thurston Hall on F Street.

Last fall’s IMF meetings were eventually canceled following the terrorist attacks in D.C. and New York.

Despite the cancellation, the University was forced to keep classes closed because students had already made travel plans for the weekend.

Hundreds of protesters still came to the area, but demonstrations were peaceful compared to past years.

Although the University plans on quieter protests for this year’s meetings, Vice President for Student Academic and Support Services Robert Chernak said the demonstrators will still disrupt campus.

“There will be a disruption in terms of traffic and security perimeters in the area,” Chernak said.

Chernak said the only restrictions for the weekend will include restrictions on residence hall guests and possible closing of the visitors’ center on H Street.

He said non-family guests will not be allowed in the residence halls that weekend.

“We will try to maintain more or less normal operations, most of it is happening during the weekend anyway and there aren’t even very many classes on Friday,” Chernak said.

He said the visitors’ center may not be open on Friday and Saturday if there is heavy traffic.

Last spring, similar protests resulted in security perimeters around the IMF and World Bank and a large presence of MPD squad cars.

Mayor Anthony Williams has called for more federal funding to pay for MPD costs associated with the increased security required for IMF and World Bank meetings.

“We need more officers on the street,” Williams said at a Student Association-sponsored Democratic mayoral debate last week. “We just haven’t gotten the federal support.”

Metropolitan Police Chief Charles Ramsey told the Washington Post that an understaffed MPD was having trouble recruiting additional officers to work at the protests after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Brian Murray, a spokesperson for the IMF, said MPD will be handling all the special security measures.

Murray said enhanced security measures and protesters should not bother students.

“Students should definitely tune in, we will be Web-casting all the meetings on the IMF Web site,” he said.

-Alex Kingsbury contributed to this report.

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