George Washington University prepares for possible election season disruptions

The George Washington University in D.C. is urging students to prepare for election season as they would for a hurricane or blizzard.

The university’s Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities is reminding students living on or near campus to “Be Alert, Be Aware, and Be Prepared” for potential disruptions on or near campus during the election period.

Before Election Day, a designated a university holiday, students are advised to stock up on at least a one-week supply of food and refill any prescriptions that may run out in the next two weeks.

Spokesperson Crystal L. Nosal said in a statement that the university does not anticipate access restrictions around the campus, but “it is possible, given the unrest that has been seen in D.C. and around the country the past several months.”

Nosal said the university regularly sends preparedness messaging to the campus community before events that may draw large numbers of people to the nation’s capital, including Fourth of July festivities, Inauguration Day and the Women’s March.

Starting Election Day, students are urged to be aware of their physical surroundings, carry identification at all times, and observe directions from law enforcement in the event of a disturbance.

After election results are public, some students may want to celebrate, while others may protest. The university is offering safety tips to students who choose to exercise their First Amendment rights:

  • Plan for the possibility of increased pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
  • Make sure doors close and lock behind you as you arrive and depart.
  • Do not allow strangers into your home or building.
  • Carry identification and your GWorld card, if you have one, at all times when on or off campus.
  • If there is a disturbance, seek shelter indoors until normal conditions return.
  • Observe directions from law enforcement personnel.

The preparedness messages also tell students how to sign up for the university’s Election Day text updates about safety and campus operations. Text updates will start Monday, Nov. 2, and continue as long as needed.

The university is also providing students with information on how to access the university’s mental health resources, academic assistance and student support services.

GW said that it will continue with virtual learning in the spring but will invite more students back to campus.

Classes at American University in the Tenleytown area were canceled early in October, after students urged the school to close for Election Day.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser promised that the city will stay safe during the 2020 election — regardless of who the next president is. At least two groups say that they are planning to demonstrate in D.C. around Election Day.


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