SA Senate denounces vandalism, threats after GW YAF posters were torn down

Media Credit: Alexander Welling | Photographer

SA Sen. AJ Link, Law-G, sponsored a resolution that condemned those responsible for tearing down hundreds of posters advertising a GW YAF event earlier this month.

Updated: April 19, 2019 at 9:26 p.m.

The Student Association Senate passed a resolution Monday condemning those responsible for tearing down posters promoting a conservative student organization’s event earlier this month.

The resolution, which passed 21-1-7, follows reports that more than 1,000 posters advertising an event hosted by GW’s chapter of Young America’s Foundation were removed from campus buildings. The measure encourages students to report incidents that violate the Student Code of Conduct through the University’s anonymous online bias reporting system that launched earlier this semester.

“I’m all for people being able to feel strongly and have opinions about certain issues that can be personal, but once you cross the line into vandalism and into serious acts of intolerance by making threats, I think the SA should make a stand,” SA Sen. AJ Link, Law-G and a sponsor of the bill, said.

Multiple senators called to remove GW YAF’s name from the legislation and asked to broaden the wording to include all student organizations. But Link said the final resolution named GW YAF specifically because the organization has been the victim of similar acts numerous times.

He said supporting the resolution does not imply that the senate agrees with GW YAF’s political messages but emphasizes the SA’s role as an advocate for all student organizations.

Kara Zupkus, the co-president of GW YAF, said members of the group caught “vandals” who “pushed and shoved” female organization members and tore down posters about two weeks ago. The organization faced similar backlash in January for hosting right-wing commentator Ben Shapiro on campus.

“It is getting to the point where YAF members are beginning to feel personal security is at risk here,” she said.

Zupkus said she hopes the resolution will promote free speech on campus and protect GW YAF members from future instances of property destruction.

The senate also passed a resolution Monday applauding student leaders for recommending ways to reduce food insecurity on campus. Students involved in the Food Experience Task Force released the group’s first State of Dining report last week, which called on officials to enact several changes to curb campus dining issues, like creating a dining hall on the Foggy Bottom Campus and partnering with more multicultural dining vendors.

The resolution – sponsored by SA Sen. Rilind Abazi, ESIA-U – urges the University to execute the task force’s recommendations and “intensify its efforts” to combat food insecurity, especially on the Mount Vernon Campus, where a nearby grocery store is expected to close next month.

“We are looking to address all of the recommendations in the report and find solutions,” Abazi said.

The senate also unanimously approved a bill streamlining the process student organizations use to appeal their allocations in the SA budget. The legislation allows the governance and nominations committee’s subcommittee on allocations and appeals to meet if the chair is unable to convene a meeting.

Also on Monday, the senate confirmed second-year law student Britt Lewis and junior Ian Haimowitz, the current senate chief of staff, as judges on the Student Court.

The senate also greenlighted a $5,850 allocation for GW Class Council’s annual Battle of the A Capellas on April 26.

This post has been updated to reflect the following clarification:
The Hatchet reported that more than 300 GW YAF posters were taken down. More than 1,000 posters were removed.

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