George Washington University: Jewish Student Suspended for Displaying Souvenir Indian Swastika

Category: Free Speech
Schools: George Washington University

On March 18, 2015, George Washington University (GWU) suspended a student, temporarily evicted him from university housing, and banned him from campus in response to his posting of a small souvenir swastika purchased in India on his residence hall’s bulletin board. The student, who is Jewish, had wanted to teach other residents about the cultural heritage of the swastika as a symbol of good luck, and stayed by the bulletin board in International House, which had recently been vandalized with drawn swastikas, to answer questions about it. After he left, a member of his fraternity reported the swastika to GWU’s police department. Though the student immediately claimed responsibility and attempted to make his intentions clear, GWU charged him with five conduct violations, including interfering with university events, disorderly conduct, and discrimination, and reported his case for investigation by the District of Columbia police as a potential hate crime. Citing GWU’s promises of free expression, FIRE wrote to GWU on March 27, calling on the university to drop the charges against the student, whose disciplinary case is still pending.

  • Display of Swastika Causes a Row

    May 28, 2015

    By Narayan Lakshman at The Hindu When a ‘Jewish student’ placed a Hindu swastika obtained as a souvenir on a trip to India on his residence hall’s bulletin board on March 16, it led to a suspension order and charges, including those relating to disorderly conduct and discrimination, with the possibility of an investigation into ‘hate crimes’. Following a revocation of the suspension order, the student was reinstated this week to full status at the George Washington University (GWU) after an outcry by The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), and the Hindu American Foundation (HAF). According to FIRE […]

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  • GWU Drops Its Ignorant Attack on Student who Posted Hindu Symbol

    May 28, 2015

    By Greg Piper at The College Fix All it took was international condemnation and threats of legal action! George Washington University – the first college in the nation to crack $50,000 in “total cost of attendance” for students – won’t expel a student after all who posted a symbol resembling a Nazi swastika on his house’s bulletin board, which turned out to be a Hindu religious symbol, the Times of India reports. The school made a big stink about the symbol when it was first discovered – President Steven Knapp even opened a hate-crime investigation – yet has made nary a […]

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  • George Washington University Rescinds Suspension Of Jewish Student Who Displayed The Hindu Swastika Symbol

    May 28, 2015

    By Raif Karerat at The American Bazaar WASHINGTON, DC: Following international outcry and the threat of litigation, George Washington University has opted to rescind the suspension it doled out to a student who posted a Hindu swastika on his residence hall’s bulletin board. The Hindu swastika — which is a religious symbol and carries none of the hateful connotations of its Nazi-appropriated counterpart — was displayed on a bulletin board in GWU’s International House residence hall and subsequently mistaken for the Nazis’ World War II-era emblem on March 16. The student, who is a member of the predominantly Jewish fraternity […]

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  • George Washington’s Response to Swastika Earns Media Scrutiny

    April 30, 2015

    Earlier this week, FIRE reported on The George Washington University’s (GWU’s) suspension of a Jewish student who displayed a Hindu swastika he brought back with him from a trip to India on his residence hall’s bulletin board. Charging the student with five conduct code violations, the university ignored the swastika’s long tradition as a symbol of good luck. In so doing, GWU ignored its own promises of free expression, as well as FIRE’s March 27 letter arguing that it must rescind its punishment of the student. Many commentators have since written publicly to explain that the mere display of a […]

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  • The George Washington University Tramples Free Speech, Ignores Context in Suspending Student for Indian Swastika Posting

    April 28, 2015

    WASHINGTON, April 28, 2015—The George Washington University (GWU) has ignored both context and its own promises of free expression by suspending a Jewish student for placing a souvenir Hindu swastika obtained on a trip to India on his residence hall’s bulletin board. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), along with the student’s attorneys and the Hindu American Foundation, are calling on GWU to revoke the suspension. On March 16, the student placed a small, bronze, Indian swastika on a bulletin board at GWU’s International House residence hall. He intended to educate his friends and co-residents about the symbol’s […]

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