Political Devotions
Public Spaces
Tense times of tents

Tense times of tents

Our interview at a pro-Palestinian encampment in D.C.

Two days ago, Victoria and I visited the pro-Palestinian encampment at George Washington University. Because the District of Columbia isn’t willing at this point to take down the encampment, it’s one of the few encampments in the country arising out of the war protests that amount to an extended laboratory of students’ public life together.

We didn’t come to discuss the war in Gaza. Instead, we wanted to find out what life was like in something new to even the most seasoned protester in this student community—an alternative polis to what passes for one in our individualized society.

Manny, a GW senior who was serving his shift as one of the encampment’s marshals, was happy to talk about life in the encampment. We learned that the students are currently living a bit like the citizens who experienced revolution in first-century Jerusalem, twentieth-century Poland, and twenty-first century Kiev.

Manny was also frank about the new community’s struggles with outside agitators as well as its need for discipline and focus.

Finally, we talked about the dynamics of tents, which have rankled college authorities nationwide.

Above: Manny, our host, opening the library tent for us.

In the podcast, I refer to a number of scenes. Here is the video I describe making of University Yard the day before our trip to GW together:

Other scenes described in this podcast episode (and some that aren’t):

Above: Sign at the Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro Station
Above: Victoria on our way to the encampment.

My thanks to Random Rap for the licensed use of “Grandiloquence” from Uppbeat.

The sources for this podcast are as follows (see my manuscript’s bibliography for the books’ full citations):

Armesto, Jason. “'No other choice': UVa president defends decision to call in state troopers on campus protesters,” Daily Progress, May 5, 2024.

Baxter, Thomas, and Finn Trainer. “Police Forcefully Clear Encampment Near University Chapel, Detain Protesters.” Police Forcefully Clear Encampment Near University Chapel, Detain Protesters - the Cavalier Daily - University of Virginia’s Student Newspaper, May 5, 2024.

Granberg, Ellen M. “Message Regarding the Ongoing Campus Protests.” Office of the President, May 5, 2024.

Hermann, Peter. “D.C. Police Rejected GWU’s Plea to Sweep Out University Protesters.” Washington Post, April 27, 2024.

Horsley, You Shall Not Bow, 116.

Kennicott, Philip. “The Power of Putting George Washington in a Kaffiyeh.” Washington Post, May 3, 2024.

Politico. “25 Arrested at University of Virginia After Police Clash With pro-Palestinian Protesters,” May 5, 2024.

Shore, Ukrainian Night, 37-45, 270.

Political Devotions
Public Spaces
Public Spaces chronicles two suburban émigrés' encounters with city people creating different kinds of local, public life.
Listen on
Substack App
Apple Podcasts
RSS Feed
Appears in episode
Bryce Tolpen