Apology for Student Told to Remove Palestinian Flag

December 11, 2015

George Washington University President Steven Knapp said Thursday he had apologized to a student who was asked by a university police officer to remove a Palestinian flag from his dorm room window.

The student, Ramie Abounaja, and his attorneys at Palestine Legal argue that the university was selectively enforcing a policy prohibiting the hanging of objects outside residence hall windows to target the Palestinian flag in particular. In his statement, Knapp said that he had instructed relevant offices “to ensure consistent enforcement of all university policies.” He also said the university was ending “a flawed process” by which the student received an official warning letter from the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, despite having immediately complied with a police officer’s request to remove the flag.

"At the same time, I have personally apologized to the student for this unfortunate incident and assured him that the university’s actions were in no way a response to his expression of his beliefs or opinions," Knapp said.

Radhika Sainath, a staff attorney at Palestine Legal, welcomed the apology. "We're pleased GWU has apologized to Ramie for its discriminatory removal of his flag," she said. "That said, it's unfortunate that it took five weeks and a legal threat for a student to get a straight answer."

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