George Washington University

Location: Washington, District Of Columbia
Type: Private

Speech Code Rating

George Washington University has been given the speech code rating Yellow. Yellow light colleges and universities are those institutions with at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application. Read more

This school has adopted the chicago statement for free speech. This school has adopted the chicago statement for free speech. This school has adopted the chicago statement for free speech.

Campus Climate

Overall Ranking

out of 203 colleges ranked Read more
  • Demonstrations Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Protest and Demonstration Policies
    Last updated: April 7, 2021

    [T]he university maintains the right to define the time, place, and manner, and objects utilized during demonstrations that occur on its campuses and at its facilities. Individuals and organizations sponsoring demonstrations should contact Marvin Center and University Conferences, Mount Vernon Campus Events, or the ... Read More
  • Campus Living and Residential Education: Policies- Posters & Promotions

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Posting and Distribution Policies
    Last updated: April 7, 2021

    Registered student organizations and campus departments can hang posters in the residence halls by bringing an original copy of the poster to that building’s Community Coordinator to recieve [sic] approval. Posters must meet the following criteria: … Have a clearly displayed logo or name of the sponsori... Read More
  • Residential Community Conduct Guidelines: Abuse & Discriminatory Behavior

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: April 7, 2021

    Abuse, threats, intimidation of others, or language used or action taken on a discriminatory basis, through the use of electronic, written, verbal or physical means, are unacceptable and are subject to administrative and/or disciplinary action. Actions and language that are intimidating, threatening, or hostile to o... Read More
  • Code of Student Conduct: Disorderly Conduct

    Speech Code Rating: Yellow
    Speech Code Category: Policies on Tolerance, Respect, and Civility
    Last updated: April 7, 2021

    E. Disorderly Conduct – Disorderly Conduct: Disorderly conduct may include but is not limited to: i. Verbally abusing university officials acting in performance of their duties; ii. Acting in a manner that threatens, endangers, or harasses others; iii. Disrupting, obstructing, or interfering with the activitie... Read More
  • Acceptable Use Policy for Computer Systems and Services

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Internet Usage Policies
    Last updated: April 7, 2021

    As  outlined  in  GW’s Equal Opportunity, Nondiscrimination, Anti-Harassment and Non-Retaliation Policy, Computing Systems and Services may not be used to unlawfully discriminate against  any  person  on  the  basis  of  protected  characteristics  or  any  other  basis prohibited  by  federal  law,  the  District  ... Read More
  • Code of Student Conduct: Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Advertised Commitments to Free Expression
    Last updated: April 7, 2021

    Academic institutions exist for the transmission of knowledge, the pursuit of truth, the development of students, and the general well-being of society. Free inquiry and free expression are indispensable to the attainment of these goals. As members of the academic community at the George Washington University, stude... Read More
  • Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Interpersonal Violence Policy

    Speech Code Rating: Green
    Speech Code Category: Harassment Policies
    Last updated: April 7, 2021

    Sexual Harassment: conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following: … unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the university’s Programs or Activities; … Read More

FIRE surveyed roughly 44,000 students at 203 colleges and universities about the climate for free speech at their institutions. See the full report on FIRE’s 2022 College Free Speech Rankings for more information.


Overall / out of a top score of 100

Overall Score 34.38

Rankings / out of 203 colleges ranked

Overall Ranking 171
Openness 97
Tolerance (Liberals) 37
Tolerance (Conservatives) 145
Administrative Support 85
Comfort 138
Disruptive Conduct 163

Administrative Behavior

Supported Scholars 0.5
Sanctioned Scholars 1
Successful Disinvitations 1


Speech Climate BELOW AVERAGE
Speech Code YELLOW
  • Rising censorship, falling trust: How lack of transparency erodes trust in higher ed and beyond

    March 15, 2022

    In early February, in a flagrant breach of community trust, the president of George Washington University expressed his intent to uncover individuals responsible for engaging in protected expression on campus. The expression in question? Posters featuring artwork by Chinese dissident artist Badiucao, which, despite their glossy illustrative style, explore a dark theme: China’s human rights… Read more

  • George Washington University recants promise to uncover Chinese government critics after artist’s satirical Olympics posters appear on campus

    February 7, 2022

    Within China, censorship has been the hallmark of the Beijing 2022 Olympics. This weekend, China’s repression of dissent was imitated here in the United States by George Washington University, when the university’s president vowed to identify and expose those who posted Olympics-themed art on campus criticizing China’s human rights record.  Last night, FIRE swiftly criticized… Read more

  • More universities are responding to the challenges of online education and China, but the results are a mixed bag

    September 4, 2020

    At Princeton University, Harvard Business School, Amherst College, and the University of Pennsylvania, some faculty have revised teaching plans in an effort to protect students, especially those from China or Hong Kong, in light of Hong Kong’s National Security Law. The law offers severe penalties for violations of its vague bans on “separatism and subversion,”… Read more

  • George Washington University’s investigation into Snapchat video chills speech

    November 14, 2019

    George Washington University is investigating two students for a video expressing anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments. This investigation into protected speech risks chilling student expression and violates GW’s commitment to uphold freedom of speech. On Nov. 6, a Snapchat video surfaced on Twitter showing two GW students saying: “What are we going to do to Israel?… Read more

  • George Washington University police investigating posters lampooning conservative group — again

    September 13, 2017

    Police at George Washington University are reportedly scrutinizing security camera footage to identify the culprits behind posters clearly satirizing a conservative student organization — the second time the university’s authorities have investigated the same poster in ten years. Yesterday, we wrote to the university calling on them to abandon the investigation. The GW Hatchet reports:… Read more

  • Students Fly Flags at GWU in Support of Student Told to Remove Palestinian Flag

    December 14, 2015

    About 20 students, some draped in flags from various nations, gathered at George Washington University’s (GWU’s) Kogan Plaza on Friday to support Ramie Abounaja, the GWU student forced to remove a Palestinian flag from his dorm room window in October. “We are showing our support for Ramie and showing our support for any student who… Read more

  • GWU President Apologizes to Student Threatened for Hanging Palestinian Flag; Student Group Will Hold Protest

    December 11, 2015

    The president of George Washington University (GWU) has issued a personal apology to Ramie Abounaja, the GWU student who was forced to remove a Palestinian flag from his dormitory room window by university police and then threatened with disciplinary action by the university for displaying it. GWU President Peter Knapp issued the statement yesterday. In… Read more

  • George Washington University Forces Student to Remove Palestinian Flag from Window

    December 9, 2015

    Universities that promise free expression cannot enforce policies regarding student speech in a way that discriminates against certain viewpoints. Unfortunately, universities often do exactly that. The newest example of this disrespect for student speech rights comes from George Washington University (GWU), where student Ramie Abounaja was forced to remove a Palestinian flag from outside his… Read more

  • Victory: The George Washington University Retreats from Battle with Context

    May 29, 2015

    A Jewish student charged with five disciplinary violations and placed on interim suspension by The George Washington University (GWU) for attempting to start a dialogue about the historical pre-Nazi use of the swastika has been allowed to return to campus and his studies. The reversal comes in the wake of criticism from FIRE, the Hindu… Read more

  • 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… Read more

  • 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… Read more

  • Catch FIRE President Greg Lukianoff in D.C., Chapel Hill, and Berkeley Next Week

    September 19, 2014

    FIRE President Greg Lukianoff will be on the move next week as he travels from campus to campus to promote free speech and First Amendment rights at America’s colleges and universities. On Monday, Greg will be participating in the Fourth Annual President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge National Gathering on the campus of George… Read more

  • Letter to Editor on ‘National Failure of Student Discipline Codes’

    April 1, 2013

    Illustration of Justice Scales – Shutterstock In a powerfully written letter to the editor of The GW Hatchet, a student newspaper at George Washington University, attorney Shanlon Wu calls into question whether students can receive a fair and accurate result from university disciplinary processes. Wu, a litigator with the Washington, D.C., firm Wu, Grohovsky &… Read more

  • Student Newspapers at George Washington, Rutgers Take Note of Their Institutions’ Speech Code Ratings

    September 7, 2010

    The student newspapers at George Washington University (GW) and Rutgers University have reported on FIRE’s Spotlight ratings for the speech codes at their respective institutions. A September 2 article in The GW Hatchet, an independent student newspaper at GW, discusses the university’s yellow-light rating in Spotlight. As the article points out, there are three policies… Read more

  • Common Sense Saves GW Production of ‘Quills’

    February 10, 2009

    Yesterday’s issue of the GW Hatchet, an independent student newspaper at George Washington University, reports a troubling controversy—albeit one that seemingly has come to a proper conclusion. The controversy arose when a new student theater group, called The Company, sought to mount a production of Doug Wright’s play Quills at GW. As Matthew Rist summarizes… Read more

  • After ‘DeJohn,’ Time to Revisit Sexual Harassment Policies Nationwide

    September 23, 2008

    George Washington University (GW) law professor John Banzhaf points out that GW’s sexual harassment policy is: very similar to one just found unconstitutional in a very recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. The court struck down a very similar policy at Temple University even before it was applied in… Read more

  • George Washington University Badgers Innocent YAF Students

    October 12, 2007

    Randy Hall at the Cybercast News Service has it right: “GWU Punishes Victims.” The “victims” to whom the title alludes are the members of the George Washington University student chapter of Young America’s Foundation (YAF), which was parodied in flyers posted around campus by non-YAF students who have admitted posting the flyers. The clearly satirical… Read more

  • Police State U

    October 18, 2005

    Check out “Keeping a Close Watch on Students” on Inside Higher Ed. It tells only the latest story of universities’ encroachment into students’ lives, this time at the University of Rhode Island: About 150 students rallied Monday in protest of university policy changes that will allow students who live off-campus—as a majority do—to be referred… Read more

  • The George Washington University’s Informer Line Continues to Invite Secret Denunciations and Dossiers

    May 14, 2002

    WASHINGTON, DC—Students and faculty at the George Washington University (GW) continue to live under a nightmarish “Compliance Line” policy that invites secret allegations and investigations. The hotline, established in February 2002 and administered off campus by Pinkerton Security, allows charges of any nature to be made anonymously. The administration may then launch investigations and create… Read more

  • FIRE Letter to George Washington University

    April 30, 2001

    Dear Professors and Faculty Senators, The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, public intellectuals, and journalists across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of liberty, academic freedom, legal equality, free speech, freedom of religion, and, in this case, due process and fundamental fairness on America’s college… Read more

  • Faculty Senate Meeting Minutes, April 13, 2001

    April 13, 2001

    GW Faculty Senate Minutes   Attached Files GW Faculty Senate Minutes, April 13, 2005, PDF, 2.2 MB , GW Faculty Senate Minutes