University President Thomas LeBlanc urged students to denounce “acts of racism and hate” ahead of a white nationalist rally in D.C. this weekend.
In an email to students Friday, LeBlanc condemned the upcoming “Unite the Right” rally – an iteration of last year’s violent demonstration in Charlottesville, Va. – that will take place in Lafayette Square Sunday. He said students must condemn white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups, whose actions “are directly counter to our core values of diversity and peaceful discourse.”
The message echoed similar statements LeBlanc made last year after the Charlottesville rally.
LeBlanc said he has been “heartened” that several students have spoken out against the rally already. Both the College Republicans and College Democrats released statements earlier this week condemning the protest, saying white supremacism has “no place” on GW’s campus. Two students also launched a “walk-a-thon” fundraiser, where people can pledge money to an anti-hate group for every step a protester takes during the rally.
“We value free speech and the ability to share differing points of view,” LeBlanc said. “We will not tolerate violence or hatred directed at our community.”
LeBlanc said students should adhere to safety recommendations officials issued earlier this week, including carrying a GWorld card at all times and prohibiting unknown people from entering campus buildings and residence halls.
LeBlanc said the Division of Safety and Security has been working with the Metropolitan Police Department and local law enforcement groups to ensure the “safety of our campus community.” The University announced Tuesday that it will shut down main buildings and ramp up on-campus security this weekend in preparation for the protest.
Rally participants will arrive at the Foggy Bottom Metro station Sunday afternoon and march through campus to Lafayette Square, where the main demonstration will take place.
“The safety and security of our community is of paramount importance and is our primary concern,” LeBlanc said.