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.
FIRE Case Files
The George Washington University Tramples Free Speech, Ignores Context in Suspending Student for Indian Swastika Posting
April 28, 2015 | Read More
Letter from George Washington University Vice President for External Affairs Lorraine A. Voles to FIRE
April 1, 2015 | Read More
March 18, 2015 | Read More