Democrat Rep. James Clyburn photographed maskless at mask-mandatory GWU event

Last week, Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) spoke at George Washington University hosted by College Democrats.

GWU reinstated their indoor mask mandate several weeks ago, just one week after the previous mask mandate was lifted.

Congressman James Clyburn (D-SC) was photographed maskless at a College Democrat event at George Washington University on Apr. 27 while being surrounded by mostly masked students.

Clyburn was invited by the student organization to address the audience for "an evening with [the] House majority whip." The 81-year-old did not wear a mask despite the majority of the audience appearing to wear one to comply with the university mandate.

In addition to being the House Majority Whip, Clyburn also serves as the Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.

This event took place two weeks after GWU’s Apr. 11 announcement reinstating the indoor mask mandate, which began on Apr. 12. The new guidelines require masks to be worn at all times indoors with few exceptions. 

The decision came one week after the initial mask manded was rescinded on Apr. 4.

Instagram posts from Clyburn and GWU College Democrats show the representative speaking without a mask to what appears to be an entirely masked crowd, and standing inches away from masked students, and in one photo, an unmasked student.

GWU’s 2021 mask policy allowed for a speaker to remove his or her mask provided they are at least six feet from others. There is no mention of speaker mask guidance in the 2022 COVID policy.

[RELATED: GWU admits that it tracked student, employee locations on campus without consent]

The university cited an increase in COVID-19 positivity rates on campus and the D.C. area as the reason for reinstituting the indoor mask mandate, despite D.C. being at a low community level.

Clyburn is an outspoken proponent of following masking policies. In 2020, the congressman threatened to discontinue in-person coronavirus committee hearings due to those ignoring mask requirements. 

In July 2021, Clyburn praised the CDC for its revised masking guidelines due to COVID-19 levels “spreading rapidly.” The updated guidelines recommended that vaccinated individuals mask indoors.

The Dean of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at GWU Dr. Lynn Goldman, wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post defending the university's decision to restore the campus mask mandate. 

Goldman acknowledged the CDC's reccomeded low community level, but referenced an increase in cases on campus following the week-long mask mandate reprieve. 

“We still think cases matter, and not just when hospitals are strained.” Dr. Goldman wrote.

[RELATED: Johns Hopkins made multiple COVID policy changes in April]

During an appearance on Newsmax, Campus Reform Correspondent and George Washington University student Ezra Meyer recounted the social repercussions that accompanied going maskless during the eight days before the mandate was restored.

“There were glares, and comments, and social media posts,” Meyer stated about going mask-free. 

GWU encourages the community to confront behavior they believe to be contrary to the university’s COVID policy and has a non-compliance policy in place. The university also authorizes those on campus to anonymously report students, faculty, or staff who they observe to be in violation of COVID policies. 

The university states that non-compliance may result in “immediate corrective action… until compliance is achieved, as well as well as potential disciplinary action.” 

GWU is just one of many universities reimplementing on-campus mask mandates. According to a Campus Reform report, other schools include Columbia University, American University, Georgetown University, and Johns Hopkins University.

Campus Reform contacted all individuals and organizations mentioned in this article and will update accordingly.

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