University Takes Steps to Advance Plan Strengthening Community

As enhancements or new initiatives take shape, university also continues to encourage community feedback to improve the plan.

March 20, 2024

Tempietto at sunset

Since the announcement in late January unveiling the Strengthening Our Community in Challenging Times plan, the university has encouraged continued community feedback while moving forward with several enhancements and initiatives addressing areas such as dialogue, partnership and support, and policy review and harmonization.

“Since we launched our plan, we have made good progress in the important areas outlined,” President Ellen M. Granberg said. “But we have always intended for our plan to serve as a starting point, and I want to emphasize that we need continued feedback from our community to support, expand and improve it. We are always looking for new suggestions of events, topics, and ways to engage, and I encourage everyone in the GW community to submit their thoughts and ideas on this on the website.”

In addition to organizing student-focused events that aimed to share information about topics such as free speech and various support resources, the university also has hosted large-scale events, including the Diversity Summit, which included a keynote on the diversity and co-existence of many religions; a GW Law panel with legal scholars titled Free Speech v. Hate Speech; and the second Sesno Series event, Disagree Better: How Politicians, the Public, and the Press Can Turn Down the Heat, which included Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox and addressed the importance of healthy conflict in politics and the media.

Meanwhile, university leadership also has made progress on reviewing and harmonizing the university’s policies and protocols, particularly around speech and demonstrations. A working group is currently developing a set of recommendations to clarify the existing policies in consultation with the appropriate Faculty Senate committee.

Granberg recently shared updates on the plan’s progress with the Faculty Senate.

Another area of continued focus has been in fostering and enhancing partnerships among the community.

In recent weeks, many small group conversations and intimate gatherings among all university constituencies and other partners have provided valuable insight and ideas for strengthening and expanding the plan moving forward. The university is also supporting the work of various groups and individuals most deeply impacted by the current conflict. For example, the university is collaborating closely with GW Student Government Association leaders as they develop the Council of Jewish and Israeli Student Experience and the Council of Palestinian and Muslim Student Experience. These councils will provide a student-centered, student-led voice to inform new institutional initiatives and programs.

“I have been really impressed by the commitment of so many of our students to take meaningful steps to support one another as we have navigated these difficult times,” Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Colette Coleman said.

Other initiatives noted in the plan also will progress as the spring semester continues. The university is finalizing programming for Interfaith Week, which will take place in April, and will host two dinners for students in March and April to mark Ramadan and Passover, respectively. More information about these events and other updates is forthcoming.