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.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than 150 George Washington University students rallied Monday to protest the school’s decision to arm some of its officers.
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.
If you appreciated this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!
Leading in Turbulent Times: Effective Campus Public Safety Leadership for the 21st Century
This new webcast will discuss how campus public safety leaders can effectively incorporate Clery Act, Title IX, customer service, “helicopter” parents, emergency notification, town-gown relationships, brand management, Greek Life, student recruitment, faculty, and more into their roles and develop the necessary skills to successfully lead their departments. Register today to attend this free webcast!