President Donald Trump’s administration backed down from its plan to deport international students taking all-online classes this fall semester, after facing near-universal backlash from universities, students and other politicians. With this plan’s rescission, foreign-born students at GW face one less obstacle as they navigate COVID-19 in pursuit of their degrees.
But this week’s series of sexual assault allegations against current and former students was yet another demonstration of the widespread problem of sexual abuse on college campuses.
Here’s the best and worst of this week’s headlines.
After national outcry, the Department of Homeland Security reversed its plan to deport international students whose college classes had switched to an entirely online format.
The introduction of the plan was met with immediate and furious pushback by students, their institutions and political leaders across the country. Petitions circulated at GW that urged administrators to take a stand against the visa policy. In response, GW submitted an amicus curiae brief to a lawsuit filed in federal court by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that challenged the policy change.
In the face of this righteous anger from the public, DHS quietly reversed course and canceled the deportation policy.
International students, who do not deserve to be denied entry to the country for a decision partly out of their hands, can breathe a well-deserved sigh of relief at this policy’s rescission. For its part, GW did the right thing by voicing opposition to this policy and signing on to Harvard and MIT’s lawsuit. But in the future, it would be great to see the University lead the charge against draconian policies that affect students, instead of following in other schools’ footsteps.
Dozens of sexual abuse survivors at GW shared their harrowing stories on social media this week, reminding us of the issue’s prevalence on campus and how hard it is to achieve justice for survivors.
What began with a series of Twitter posts accusing a former student of sexual assault soon turned into more than 60 students sharing stories of their own experiences. Students reposted Instagram stories showing support for their peers and cautioning followers to deplatform sexual abusers.
The University, for its part, released a statement directing students to campus resources, including the Title IX office. But these limited resources are about to become even more toothless, as nationwide rules about Title IX offices that protect the accused are set to take effect within months. It needs to become easier, not harder, for survivors to get justice – and GW should take action in pursuit of that goal.
It is unambiguously positive that survivors have been able to find support and empowerment from their peers. But this week is still a reminder of how common sexual assault is on college campuses – and how hard it is for justice to be appropriately served.
Andrew Sugrue, a rising junior majoring in political communication, is the contributing opinions editor.
This article appeared in the July 17, 2020 issue of the Hatchet.