Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Diversity Concerns Discussed

Diversity Concerns Discussed

DPS Announces Change in Policy

By Tracy Zupancis Hoya Staff Writer

Discussing ways to promote diversity on campus, the Georgetown University Town Hall meeting, scheduled as a follow-up to a similar meeting that occurred after the incidents of menorah vandalism in December, occurred on Tues. evening. At the meeting, where students voiced concerns over issues including campus safety, Department of Public Safety officials announced changes in policies involving bias-related crimes.

The 170 students, faculty, alumni and staff assembled at the beginning of the meeting broke into “working groups” of about 15 people into four different “action areas.” These issues were safety, security, legal and code issues; diversity in curricular issues; programming for community building and impact of substance use/abuse on civility and community. Each group was given the task of discussing the particulars of their action area and prioritizing concrete actions combating problems within their area, then reporting back to the entire group with their conclusions an hour later.

Representatives from each of the action areas except safety, security, legal and code issues presented to an assembly that had dwindled to approximately 50 people by 9 p.m.

Dean of Students James A. Donahue began the proceedings by explaining that the meeting was “a follow up to something that was already on the books” and emphasized the importance of being “candid, frank and honest,” citing this goal as the reason that outside press was not permitted to attend the meeting and discussions. “Having outside press is not always constructive,” he said, “and these are community issues.”

Rev. Adam Bunnell, OFM Conv., followed Donahue,saying “We need to hear until every opportunity to express the anger is articulated so that we can move from there to a more creative approach to how we can deal with this together. There isn’t really a we, or a they,” he said, “and I need to say very strongly that it isn’t just the administration that can fix this. Working together . we can find ways to knit together a community where these episodes will no longer be present.”

“This community, in struggling with these acts, is growing up,” Donahue said. He explained that the Georgetown community has come a long way already, as he believes that three or four years in the past, incidents such as the finding of slurs in LXR, Village C West and Copley would not even have been reported. “Tonight we work to translate the rhetoric to action, to concrete solutions,” he said, commending the work that the Georgetown Unity Coalition put into their proposal.

GUSA Sophomore Class Representative and Georgetown Chapter NAACP President Aaron Polkey (COL ’02) spoke of the formation of the Coalition and passed out 30 copies of the report presented to the administration.

Captain Michael Jacobs of the Metropolitan Police Department fielded questions from the safety, security, legal and code issues group concerning the relation of his department to Georgetown’s Department of Public Safety, and the District of Columbia’s law concerning bias-related crime.

Jacobs explained that the law concerning bias-related crime is not particularly specific and often difficult to understand. “My department thoroughly investigates all of these types of crimes,” he said, “but not everything that uses a certain word is a hate crime. The circumstances are very important in deciding if an incident falls under the D.C. law.”

Also present was DPS Director William Tucker and DPS Associate Director Darryl Harrison. When faced with student questions concerning how often the Metropolitan police are contacted in bias-related incidents, Tucker said, “anything that has to do with bias we will call in and report,” a policy that was adopted Mon. Feb. 8.

One issue that had been raised during the course of Monday’s rally and contributed to some student confusion was set to rest when Harrison and Tucker explained that students who report incidents to DPS are, in fact, all given the opportunity to take the issue up with the Metropolitan police and asked if they wish to prosecute. If the complainant chooses not to report the incident further, they sign a release.

Tucker, Harrison and Jacobs assured students present that there are training programs in place for both DPS and Metropolitan Police officers concerning investigating and dealing with hate crimes. DPS has hired an outside group to continue to train and hold refresher courses for their officers at least once a year, while Metropolitan Police officers receive training at their academy before entering the force and undergo in-service training throughout the year.

Mayumi Grigsby (COL ’02) presented the ideas formed by the programming for community building groups. A retreat for student leaders, funding for joint programming and Georgetown coalitions to promote diversity were among those items proposed as short-term goals. A public statement related to the Catholic nature of the university that expressly states that Georgetown does not condone acts of intolerance and more publicity for interfaith events were the two priorities for changes to interfaith programming, services and education. Sensitivity training for faculty members, an essay on diversity in the application for admission, a written condemnation of bias in the honor code and the establishment of an office designed to advertise student organizations were also proposed.

The group on diversity and curricular issues proposed a required course on diversity, a student survey concerning how well diversity is integrated into the classroom, required summer reading for freshmen having to do with diversity and discussions at New Student Orientation including a workshop such as Jane Elliot’s “The Blue Eyed Workshop.” It was proposed that diversity, tolerance and free speech be discussed within the residence halls with a pop culture approach in order to make students more comfortable. Both representatives raised the importance of approaching ignorance in an open forum rather than simply punishing and suppressing it.

Administrative Assistant of Campus Ministry Angela White addressed the issues of the impact of substance use and abuse on civility and community. The need to reexamine the community perception that “to be social at Georgetown you must participate in the drug and alcohol culture” was paramount to the group, said White. The group recommended that accessibility to and advertising of substances be reduced on campus.

The safety, security, legal and code issues group discussed the possibility of making bias-related incidents category B offenses in the Student Code of Conduct, rather than category C offenses, as they are now. This distinction would open such transgressions to punishment by expulsion. Security issues were also discussed further. Discussion ran late, however, and the group continued debating after the other groups had presented their findings and the meeting was adjourned.

After the close of the meeting at 9:30 p.m., MEChA President Hector Lopez said, “I think that people today expressed their overwhelming support for the coalition’s proposal. Every idea discussed was based on the proposal, but going into more detail. The administration is being overwhelmingly supportive and I think that by the end of the term we will have really accomplished something concrete.”

Donahue called the meeting “superb,” and noted, “There was a lot of positive energy here tonight. Now we need to take that energy and translate it into an plan we can implement.”

Members of the administration will be meeting with the leaders of the coalition every 10 days and another town hall meeting is slated to occur after spring vacation in March.

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