DC Students Irked By Dorm Evictions For Left-Wing IMF Protests

July 7, 2008 - 8:28 PM

Washington, D.C. (CNSNews.com) - Students at a Washington, D.C. university are discontented over their school's plan to close down the campus and their dormitories during the International Monetary Fund meetings planned for later this month.

George Washington University (GWU) plans to lock its students out of their dormitories between September 27 and October 2, in an effort to deter protesters from using the campus as a base for their protests, as well as ensuring the safety of its students.

The university announced that it was closing the dorms as a security precaution due to the close proximity of the IMF meetings and planned protests to the campus, and the impact that the protests and police activities will have upon campus life.

Student discontent ranges from complete outrage to an ambivalent acceptance of the university's decision.

Vocal student opposition to the closure can be seen scrawled on the sidewalk in front of the university's Gelman library. Messages in front of the library include: "Oppose the close," "It makes no sense this stupid fence," and "Wake up and be accountable."

"I think it is a bad idea," said Andres Bergara, a GWU student. "I really don't think that we are at risk. One person died in Genoa. Overall these protests around the world have been largely peaceful."

"GW students should be able to participate in this freely, and not be forced to leave GW," he said. "This could be a valuable learning experience for those who don't know much about globalization, and also for those of us who do."

Bergara is also convinced that the closure of the campus during the IMF protests is a violation of his rights "on many levels."

GWU Student Orlando Hill, 20, believes that the closure of the residence halls is unnecessary because, "we can live peacefully in our dorms without them locking the building."

Many GWU students are upset because they do not know where they will stay during the closure because many of the students' homes are far from Washington, D.C. "It is really an inconvenience because the foreign students really have nowhere to go," Hill said.

"People are really upset," said 18-year-old GWU freshman Kat O'Shaughnessy. "They are trying to sponsor some buses to take people up to New Jersey and New York [as well as] a lot of other places where students live."

"They are also supposedly going to give people loans and stuff for students from far away, like I am from Seattle, so I can't exactly hop on a plane and go home at the end of September."

She speculates that the students with nowhere to go might be sent to hotels at university expense.

But O'Shaughnessy was somewhat understanding to the university's decision to close the school during the protests. "I can see where it is coming from," she said. "If we were to stay here, we would literally have to be locked into our buildings 'cause there is nowhere we could really go."

"They (the city) are literally blockading the entire campus, especially by the freshman dorms," said O'Shaughnessy.

At least one GWU student voiced support for the university's decision. "I think that it is really a good thing because I think security is a really big issue," said 19-year-old GWU sophomore Jackie Gonzalez.

According to the university, the decision was made at the behest of the Metropolitan D.C. Police Department after the school was advised that normal campus operations would be next to impossible during the period of time immediately before and after the IMF meetings and protests.

"As part of their crowd control efforts, police will be erecting barricades around a security perimeter, some of which will run through our campus," the GWU statement said. "According to the [Metropolitan D.C. Police Department], protests will likely commence before the meetings begin and continue for a time after they end."

During the IMF meeting and anticipated protests, only essential personnel will have access to the campus.