Content warning: This article discusses sexual assault on campus. Please refer to the end of the article for resources on and off campus.

The resignation of Sahil Nair (SFS ’19) from the Georgetown University Student Association presidency has bred distrust in an administration that ran on a promise of representing students effectively.

Nair’s departure from GUSA was prompted by the resignation of then-Vice President Naba Rahman (SFS ’19), Chief of Staff Aaron Bennett (COL ’19) and nine other high-ranking officials in his administration.

The members of this administration can no longer serve Georgetown as trustworthy and effective advocates. The rest of the executive staff — from senior staff to members of policy teams — must resign immediately, although a new administration could accept currently serving staff. Senior staff members have already tendered their resignations; they must follow through on this offer to secure the trust of the student body. Juan Martinez (SFS ’20), speaker of the GUSA senate, who will become president upon Rahman’s newly reported resignation, should be given the opportunity to build his own staff.

Tuesday morning, a letter written by Ricardo Mondolfi (SFS ’19), chair of Students of Georgetown, Inc., and edited by Rahman and Bennett, among other GUSA officials, claimed that Nair “has faced allegations that he committed assault against several women.”

Tuesday night, at an emergency session of the GUSA senate, several senators alleged that Rahman, Bennett and other members of the campaign and administration’s knowledge of these accusations dates as far back as February, during the campaign for the executive.

No complaints had been filed against Nair through the Title IX office or the Office of Student Conduct, he wrote in a May 28 email to The Hoya. A university spokesperson confirmed that, as of May 2019, Nair was not the subject of any complaints through either office nor had he been found responsible for any violations of the Student Code of Conduct.

Most concerning, in August, Rahman addressed the welcome session of New Student Orientation — a speech typically given by the GUSA president — after allegations against Nair resurfaced late this summer. Rahman and Bennett were made aware of the situation, but did not disclose the information to anybody outside of their senior staff, according to the GUSA senate and an article published today in The Hoya.

These GUSA officials were in a position to take action last month and made the amoral decision not to. This reality is not only concerning, but it also implies an inability for members of this administration to hold their peers and colleagues accountable.

This editorial board recognizes the frustrations of GUSA staff, especially policy team members, who have been as shocked by recent events as the rest of the Georgetown community. There are no perfect paths forward, only marginally preferred ones; requiring the GUSA executive to begin staffing from scratch will ensure that those entrusted with responsibility are truly deserving of it.

Members of the current GUSA staff — particularly policy staffers, who often play important roles in bettering the university — could be welcomed back into future administrations, but their immediate resignations would allow Georgetown students to carefully choose who they want to represent their interests in student government. Trust in the GUSA executive has been seriously compromised, and the branch needs to be temporarily purged.
Furthermore, significant unanswered questions about the complicity of high-ranking campaign and administration officials remain.

Georgetown’s Title IX office, in consultation with the GUSA senate, Electoral Commission and Constitutional Council, should investigate the degree to which members of the Nair-Rahman campaign were aware of any assault accusations against Nair and take appropriate action. The Georgetown community — particularly survivors of sexual assault, who deserve the university’s especial attention and support — is owed the full truth.

This editorial board — like the rest of the Georgetown community — is waiting for answers. Until then, however, the GUSA executive branch has lost too much credibility and trust to effectively govern and represent students.

The Hoya’s editorial board is composed of six students and is chaired by the Opinion Editor. Editorials reflect only the beliefs of a majority of the board and are not representative of The Hoya or any individual member of the board.

This article was updated June 23 to indicate the absence of Title IX or Office of Student Conduct complaints against Nair and to include comment from Nair.

Resources: On-campus resources include Health Education Services (202-687-8949) and Counseling and Psychiatric Services (202-687-7080); additional off-campus resources include the D.C. Rape Crisis Center (202-333-7273) and the D.C. Forensic Nurse Examiner Washington Hospital Center (844-443-5732). If you or anyone you know would like to receive a sexual assault forensic examination or other medical care — including emergency contraception — call the Network for Victim Recovery of D.C. at 202-742-1727. Emergency contraception is available at the CVS located at 1403 Wisconsin Ave NW.  To report sexual misconduct, you can contact Georgetown’s interim Title IX coordinator at 202-687-9183 or file an online report here.

One Comment

  1. Hoya Almost Abroad says:

    Even Nixon had the dignity to resign.

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