Despite student pushback, George Washington University is moving ahead with plans to arm some of its police officers, the institution announced Monday. The Washington, D.C.–based university will take the first step in a “multi-phase implementation process” by arming two high-ranking police officers at the beginning of the fall semester.
In April, then interim GWU president Mark S. Wrighton announced that the university would arm its officers, in response to increased gun violence—including mass shootings—at colleges and K-12 schools across the country. Students responded at the time by protesting at Wrighton’s house, concerned that arming campus police officers would lead to increased violence toward students and community members, particularly people of color. Twenty student organizations and over 200 faculty members also sent letters opposing the decision.
According to Monday’s announcement, “Additional arming will occur in a multi-phase process contingent on a successful first phase. The university will incorporate any additional community feedback as arming continues. [Police Chief James] Tate and other university leadership also will meet with more students, faculty, staff and neighbors in the coming weeks.”