George Washington University warns student for hanging Palestinian flag from his dorm room window
Palestine Legal wrote to George Washington University (GW) to demand that the warning letter issued to Palestinian-American student Ramie Abounaja be withdrawn.
Last October, Abounaja, a pre-med student at GW, was ordered by a campus police officer to remove a Palestinian flag he had hanging from his dorm window. The officer did not leave until Abounaja removed the flag because various complaints were received by the department about the flag.
A week later a warning letter was issued to Abounaja in regards to this incident. Abounaja was not informed of what rule or regulation he violated, which prompted him to write to the university on November 4th.
In his letter, Abounaja wrote:
“I felt like I was being singled-out, because of my heritage and the viewpoint of my speech, for something I’ve seen dozens of students, fraternities and other student groups do in my three years at GW . . . The events of the last week have left me feeling humiliated, upset and like I can’t even feel safe in my own dorm room. I’ve had finals this week and have found it very hard to study or to think about anything else.”
The university has yet to communicate to Abounaja the rule that it believes he violated. GWU hasn’t given Abounaja an opportunity to respond to the charges, either.
On Monday, Palestine Legal published a letter it sent to George Washington University:
“It is clear, as reflected by comments from the police officer, that Mr. Abounaja was questioned, censored and sanctioned because some people do not like Palestinians or because they disagree with the viewpoint expressed.”
Palestine Legal’s letter also explained that the university violated Title VIof the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.
Students for Justice in Palestine at GWU told Palestine in America what they want the university to do next and have started a petition to help enforce its demands:
Withdraw the ‘Warning Letter’
Apologize, in writing, to Mr. Abounaja
Issue a written clarification of GW’s policy of hanging flags and banners and ensure the policy is applied equally, regardless of the viewpoint or the message or a student’s national origin.”
SJP at GWU’s full statement can be read here.