by Alexa Schwerha
George Washington University (GWU) students held a bipartisan protest Tuesday, urging the Washington D.C. institution to divest its endowment from companies that are complicit in China’s human rights abuses.
The demonstration, which involved both of the university’s College Republicans and College Democrats chapters, comes one week after university President Mark S. Wrighton rescinded his criticism of on-campus artwork that critiqued China’s abuses against its Uyghur population.
“We’ve all banded together,” activist and GWU alum Juan Carlos Mora told Campus Reform during the protest.
Mora also said that Tuesday’s event, organized by the GW Uyghur Divestment Committee, was in direct response to Wrighton’s critique.
The committee is not officially registered with the university, which Mora explained is intentional to maximize the group’s efficiency and effective collaboration.
Mora also stated that individuals from the university law school are also involved in addition to the undergraduate student organizations.
Campus Reform estimates that 15-20 students participated in the protest, which was held in Kogan Plaza, a high traffic area on the university campus.
Louie Kahn, executive director of the College Democrats, told Campus Reform that the protest was the result of a multi-year “collaborative effort.”
“We invite individuals from across the political spectrum to join us in calling for The George Washington University to investigate its endowment fund for investments in companies and other entities complicit in the genocide of the Uyghur people,” Kahn said.
Those sentiments were echoed by Ezra Meyer, director of public relations for the College Republicans.
“With an issue of such moral significance, it is extremely important for us to foster bipartisanship,” Meyer stated.
“It is imperative that we set aside our political labels and come together as Americans and proponents of freedom to oppose both the reprehensible practices of the CCP and any part GW may play in enabling such endeavors,” he added.
During the event, participating students flew a large Uyghur flag and displayed the artwork at the center of the Wrighton controversy. They also distributed QR codes that link to the committee’s petition for divestment.
The petition requests a meeting with Wrighton to discuss students’ rights, as well as the school’s commitment to defending human rights and meeting the above objectives.
As of this writing, the petition has garnered 336 signatures, more than 60% of its goal of 500 supporters.
“Stand Up For Human Rights,” “End Uyghur Genocide,” “Stop the Chinese Communist Party,” and “Divest GWU From The Uyghur Genocide” were all rallying slogans to condemn the CCP’s human rights abuses.
The committee is organizing a larger-scale event to catch the attention of the university next week.
The Feb. 22 event will begin at 5:00 PM at the Jack Morton Auditorium. It will feature Uyghur activist Rushan Abbas and Uyghur refugee Zumrat Dawut.
The event will be co-sponsored by the Athenai Institute.
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Alexa Schwerha is a reporter for Campus Reform. She was the Regional Field Coordinator at Leadership Institute for Texas and New Mexico. She graduated Kent State University with a degree in Communication Studies and Political Science.
Photo “Stop Uyghur Genocide Rally” by Elvert Barnes CC2.0.