In October, 20-year-old George Washington University student Ramie Abounaja was met by a campus police officer in his dorm room and asked to remove a flag hanging from his window, The Intercept reported on Wednesday, citing a letter the student wrote to administrators.
The flag was Palestinian, and Abounaja removed it immediately without incident. But a week later, he says, he received a letter from the university threatening further disciplinary action.
Abounaja says he feels targeted for his background. “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,” Abounaja wrote in the letter to administrators cited by The Intercept.
The Intercept noted that on George Washington’s campus, a number of dorm rooms have national flags hanging from their windows.
The university told Business Insider that no flags are banned from its campus, but that the school’s code of conduct states that students can’t hang flags from their dorm windows.
When questioned about the existence of flags currently hung from dorm windows on campus, a spokesperson for the university pointed us to the part of the policy that stated the rule was only “enforced when reported to the GW Police Department.”
“The university does not discriminate against any individuals or groups,” the spokesperson further said.
On the Facebook Group “Overheard at GW,” there have been mixed responses from commenters. One person who claimed to be a Palestinian GW student sided with the university.
“This is not an issue of race,” Michael Joseph wrote. “This is a matter of school policy. And don’t call me a racist because I am 100% Palestinian. My fraternity had to take down an American flag hanging from our window (right a cross the street from Rami’s room) during welcome week. People are just trying to stir up drama.”
But another student described first-hand the discrepancy in how the policy has been mandated for different students.
“Although, I, by no means would hang a Palestinian flag out of my window, I did hang an Israeli flag out of my window facing Square 8,” Jared Stephen wrote. “I received no word, no censure, or comment from GWU. Whatever your beliefs, the university should not be censuring opposing views, as this is a disgrace to academia and free expression. Shame on GW!”
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