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The Capitol Insurrection from the Perspective of GW Student: Claire McDonnell

Claire McDonnell, a political science major from New Smyrna Beach, Florida, moved to Washington, D.C. to begin college last year. Claire attends George Washington University, where she runs cross country and track and field. She is also a member of the GW College Democrats. This week, Claire and I discussed her opinions and aspirations regarding politics, as well as the tragic events of Jan. 6, 2021. Even though she was not present during the Insurrection, she and other college students in the District of Columbia were gravely impacted by events preceding and following the attack on the Capitol.

Her Campus (HC): Do your future aspirations align with your decision to attend college in the U.S. capital?

Claire McDonnell (CM): Definitely! I am passionate about social justice and politics, and being in the District of Columbia is the perfect place. I am interested in working for the government and there are so many opportunities to pursue fields in public policy, foreign policy and law in this city.

HC: In the days prior to the Insurrection, did you notice any signs from the pro-Trump voters that an incident like this would occur?

CM: Although I was not in D.C., I knew that there was going to be a massive pro-Trump rally, but I did not expect that they would break into the Capitol.

HC: What was the general reaction of the students at your university? Were there any outliers?

CM: The general reaction of the students at GW was fear, anger and disbelief. According to the GW Hatchet, the school newspaper, the GW Republican organization condemned the acts of the pro-Trump rioters, so I think that overall, the school community disapproved of the Insurrection. Additionally, many students felt that the Insurrection showed racial bias regarding police control. During the summer of 2020, many peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters were seen as dangerous and were met with violence from the police. However, the rioters on Jan. 6—who were majority white—were not met with such violence. The Insurrection on Jan. 6 perfectly illustrates the long-standing racial inequality in the United States.

HC: How do you believe Washington, D.C. will remember this event as a city?

CM: I think that the event will be remembered as a direct attack on American democracy and a disintegration of our political system. For Washington, D.C., the Insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021 was a grave day. I think it will serve as a reminder of what happens when politicians disregard American institutions, how dangerous that is and how we can avoid that in the future.

HC: What precautions did George Washington University take regarding the safety and security of students and faculty?

CM: The university administration advised students not to leave campus and stay in their dorms. Many businesses shut down out of fear that the protests would turn violent, so they urged students to purchase groceries and essential items and remain in a safe place. The university also implemented more security measures on campus.

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An FSU student from Ormond Beach, Florida, studying political science with a minor in professional communication.
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