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George Washington U. Jewish Students Kicked Out of Dorm Rooms Over Coronavirus Fears


About 1 a.m. on Saturday, 30 students at George Washington University got calls from the university’s health center. The students — who attended the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) national conference the previous weekend — said they were told they needed to self-quarantine, although a university spokeswoman denied that. University officials were reacting to an announcement from AIPAC that two conference attendees had tested positive for the virus.

Some of the students — holding towels over their mouths — were escorted by a student emergency medical services supervisor to One Washington Circle Hotel, an 18-year-old freshman told me. “They told me I didn’t have a choice and I needed to leave my dorm immediately and stay at a hotel,” said one freshman, who refused to the university’s demand she leave her on-campus residence in the middle of the night. Instead, she took a train to her mom’s home in New Jersey on Saturday morning.  

Less than 12 hours later, in a sudden reversal, the students who did spend the night at the hotel were released from quarantine, according to an email sent by Kathleen Fox, GWU’s assistant vice president of health and security. In the email, Fox said the university had determined “there is no identifiable risk to the community from the conference.”

“We realize this situation, especially with how quickly information develops can be scary and we did not take the decision lightly,” Fox wrote. “We received information from DC [Department of Health], GW’s public health experts, and, importantly, from members of the student community as it was developing.”

“With the information we had at the time, we took the action we believed would minimize risk to you all and to the community,” the email said. “Today we have worked with DC [Department of Health] and our healthcare community to determine that, at this time, there is no identifiable risk to the community from the conference.”

A university spokeswoman said the students were not forced or told they had to self-quarantine, and some students chose not to.

Over the past few months, the University has found itself in a slew of antisemitic incidents with many students complaining the school is doing nothing to make Jewish students feel safe on campus.