George Washington Students Protest Decision to Arm Campus Police

The Board of Trustees directed the university to arm 20 George Washington Police Department officers by the fall.

George Washington Students Protest Decision to Arm Campus Police

Photo: Kristina Blokhin, Adobe Stock

WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than 150 George Washington University students rallied Monday to protest the school’s decision to arm some of its officers.

Officials announced last week that the Board of Trustees directed the university to arm 20 GWPD officers by this fall, reports Fox5. The department has around 50 officers in total.

GWU Interim President Mark Wrighton said the decision comes after a year of consideration, reviewing safety data, and input from experts. Only supervisory officers who complete specific training requirements, including specialized firearms training, will be armed.

“While we are not aware of any heightened threat to our university, in recent years there have been too many tragic instances of mass gun violence in communities and on college campuses,” Wrighton wrote in a letter to the campus community, citing the shootings at Michigan State University, the University of Virginia, and the Covenant School in Nashville. “Whenever weapons are involved, unarmed officers cannot respond and must rely instead on other armed law enforcement.”

Student protesters marched to Wrighton’s home, known as the F Street House, on Monday afternoon. They demanded the school reverse the decision, citing racist police violence and ineffective police responses to school shootings.

“Students aren’t any safer in the presence of armed police,” said senior Victoria Freire. “Recent instances of violence on our campus and situations like the school shooting at Uvalde have shown us that.”

“There is no heightened threat to the safety of our students. Therefore, there’s no need to arm officers,” said another student. “This year alone, the most common crimes have been theft, liquor law violations, destruction of property, and vandalism.”

Protesters said the decision to arm police was made without public input from students or faculty. In his letter, Wrighton said the school will gather community input before moving forward with an “arming implementation plan.”

An estimated twenty student organizations have also signed a statement opposing the decision, citing university police shootings of Black men off-campus in Cincinnati and Portland, according to WJLA. Last week, Portland State University announced it rearmed its campus police after disarming them in 2021. Opposition to disarming campus police grew in 2018 after two PSU police officers shot and killed a man outside an off-campus bar.

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Amy is Campus Safety’s Executive Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy has many close relatives and friends who are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

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