GUPD addresses free speech at GUSA roundtable

October 2, 2014

Megan Howell

At a GUSA Hoya Roundtable meeting this Tuesday, Georgetown University Police Department Chief Jay Gruber addressed free speech concerns. He called his department’s actions against H*yas for Choice last Monday “absolutely wrong” and vowed to change departmental procedure to ensure such an event never happens again.

The incident he referred to was the ousting of H*yas for Choice from the sidewalk outside the University’s front gates on 37th St. during a peaceful protest of Georgetown’s ceremony granting the Archbishop of Washington, Donald Wuerl, an honorary degree. 

“As a result of what happened, we’re having the Center for Student Engagement come in to do training for my leadership staff next Tuesday,” Gruber said. “And in the months of October and November, every single officer, sergeant and below, will be trained on the new speech and expression policy.”

Gruber also said that he would make it clear to every officer under his command that he must be notified beforehand if they plan to take any action regarding the speech and expression policy. He also emphasized the fact that GUPD did not have jurisdiction over the area that H*yas for Choice was expelled from.

“There’s no exigency to moving somebody. Nobody’s getting killed, nobody’s getting injured,” he said. “And the speech and expression policy doesn’t have any place outside the bounds of the University. There could be three people naked carrying signs in the middle of 37th and O, protesting the president, and I don’t have a dog in the fight. It’s outside the gates of the University.”

H*yas for Choice President Abby Grace (SFS ‘16) praised Gruber’s statements, but expressed dissatisfaction that actions were not taken earlier. 

“I’m happy that they have taken steps to ensure that all officers understand the updated policy,” Grace wrote in an email to the Voice. “However, I think it speaks to the reactive nature of Georgetown’s bureaucracy that it took H*yas for Choice being removed from public property for GUPD to institute this training.” 


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