On Jan. 10, Georgetown University College Democrats (GUCD) called for students to house incoming protesters for Inauguration Weekend on Facebook.
The Facebook post, written by GUCD chair Meredith Forsyth (COL ’19), asked students to consider offering space for out-of-town students, “Given our location in DC, we are calling all College Democrats to open up their dorm rooms or apartments to help house other college students for the weekend,” it read.
GUCD members were asked to fill out a form in order to be paired with a college student to house them the Friday night of Inauguration Weekend.
Forsyth said that 20 Georgetown students had signed up to host incoming students and that 23 students from other schools had signed up for a place on campus.
“It’s a hard request to ask for people to open their doors to people they don’t know,” said Forsyth. “We’re not inviting people who are dangerous to our campus. We’re inviting people who are like-minded, who are coming to the march and who need a place to stay.”
In a Jan. 13 email, Todd Olson, vice president for student affairs, wrote to students, “For your safety and the safety of your fellow residents, you are discouraged from inviting guests, with whom you are not familiar, to stay with you.”
GUCD explained that all incoming students would have to have an application approved before being granted a place on campus.
“The Women’s March is ensuring that student guests are properly approved and vetted, and the GUCD Executive Board will be communicating with guests and hosts prior to their guests’ arrival to ensure that everything runs smoothly,” Forsyth wrote in an email to the Voice.
GUCD said that all students will abide by the Office of Residential Living’s procedures with regard to multiple guests.
Forsyth said that students coming to stay on campus are participating in the Women’s March on Washington.
The Women’s March took form following the Nov. 8 election of Donald Trump. Women from all over the country are planning on marching Jan. 21 to protest the election of Trump. Multiple news outlets report that an estimated 200,000 people are scheduled to attend the March as participants.
Madison Thomas (COL ’19), national coordinator for college engagement of the Women’s March on Washington, said she has been working closely with GUCD to match interested students to hosts on campus.
Thomas acknowledged difficulty convincing students to open their doors to out-of-town protesters. “I know people are particularly concerned about the email that was sent out to everybody about housing strangers overnight, so that has been one of our biggest challenges, is housing students” she said.
Thomas said that while the school may discourage housing students that are not personally know, the students are not breaking university rules. “The university does not specifically have a policy against allowing strangers, it just advises against, so yes it’s something to be very cautious about, yes we are doing a lot of security around on that,” she said.
In addition to hosting students on Georgetown campus, Thomas said out-of-town students are also being directed to Georgetown Law and George Washington University students.