Nearly 100 faculty, staff and students marched from Kogan Plaza to University President Thomas LeBlanc’s on-campus residence to demand his resignation Friday.
Demonstrators at the “No Confidence in LeBlanc or GW BOT Rally,” organized by the Faculty Association, marched from Kogan Plaza to the F Street House with chants like “Defund LeBlanc” and “Heather Swain, shame.” Demonstrators delivered a list of demands to LeBlanc’s residence, calling for a “renewed commitment” to shared governance and “mutual respect.”
“I’ve just been appalled by everything he’s done since he’s become president, but it’s gotten worse and worse,” Dane Kennedy, a professor of history and international affairs who helped lead the march, said in an interview. “I think a bunch of us have figured out that if we can’t persuade the Board of Trustees to take action, at least we can voice our concerns as clearly as possible.”
“The problems with this administration is how they in fact don’t provide information,” Kennedy said. “They just do not inform us about what’s going on.”
Senior Yannik Omictin said administrators have been slow to respond to student demands, like free laundry. Administrators began providing students with free laundry credits following a yearlong push by the Student Association to remove auxiliary costs of living on campus.
“It’s about time that we’re done with this incrementalism,” he said. “It’s about time to come to LeBlanc’s house more often – every week, every day – and say these things over, over and over again and demand change that is actually systemic.”
Erin Chapman, the Faculty Association’s president and an associate professor of history and women’s studies, said LeBlanc is not fit to serve as GW’s president.
“I’m so glad we’re doing this and pushing for the University we want to see, the University we want to build,” Chapman said. “And he’s not the head of that University.”
Chapman said the Board must act more responsibly and support GW’s employees and students. She added that LeBlanc is leading GW in an autocratic system as if it is a real estate company or corporation.
“This University is a nonprofit,” she said. “It is supposed to be pushing for the education of students and positive social change.”
Chapman condemned ongoing layoffs across administrative units, adding that administrators’ recent financial decisions have negatively impacted employees’ livelihoods.
“First step, get LeBlanc out,” Chapman said. “He has got to go. Then, get a president who will talk to all of us, who will engage all of us, who respects all of us, who won’t take $1.5 million.”
Ivy Ken, the Faculty Association’s vice president and an associate professor of sociology, said she has “no confidence” in the administration, including LeBlanc and other top officials.
“I would like to ask members of the Board: when you continue to hire mediocre White guys, what do you think is going to happen?” Ken said.
In her speech at the protest, Ken demanded new diverse leadership to run the University.
“We’ve had 200 years of White guy presidents,” she said. “Time’s up.”