University President Thomas LeBlanc pronounced support for Palestinian students Monday, saying officials are investigating claims detailed in a human rights complaint filed against the University earlier this month.
Palestine Legal, a Palestinian rights advocacy group, sent the University a letter earlier this month alleging officials instructed the Office of Advocacy and Support to take down information about a “virtual processing space” for Palestinian students in June following violence in Gaza. In the statement, LeBlanc said officials are “committed” to preventing discrimination on campus and that GW is currently investigating the allegations, which were brought forth on behalf of an OAS employee.
“While this investigation is underway, the health and safety of members of our Palestinian community and all members of our University community remain our foremost priority,” LeBlanc said. “I recognize the concerns and frustrations some in the Palestinian community are feeling, and I want you to know that every member of our community deserves to feel welcome, supported, and included at GW.”
About 50 students protested administrators in Kogan Plaza and in front of LeBlanc’s on-campus residence Friday, calling on officials to grant mental health services through OAS and demanding a response from LeBlanc.
LeBlanc did not say in the statement whether the University would address demands from the complaint, like allowing OAS to add an Arab or Middle East and North Africa category to the Multicultural Student Services Center webpage and holding a “#GWinSolidarity” event on anti-Palestinian bias and violence this academic year.
Leblanc said GW must act thoughtfully to ensure that its campus is inclusive to all during “difficult times.”
“I also want to make it clear that the University is committed to creating and maintaining a non-discriminatory environment and that University mental health programs and services are available to GW students, without regard to their national origin,” LeBlanc said.
LeBlanc said he encourages all community members who are seeking support to reach out to Counseling and Psychological Services, the Office for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement, the Office of Advocacy and Support, the Division for Student Affairs, Human Resources or Faculty Affairs.
“We are committed to working every day to support the welcoming and inclusive community that we aspire to be, and I am grateful to all members of our community who are supporting one another and working toward that aspiration,” LeBlanc said.