On Feb. 10, GUSA and university administrators introduced to the Code of Student Conduct a new alcohol amnesty policy for cases involving sexual assault, which protects students who report sexual assault from being charged with an alcohol violation. This long-awaited shift in campus policy is a commendable example of the university exercising common sense to improve student life at Georgetown.
Though Georgetown University Student Association members originally petitioned for an amnesty clause that protects students from being penalized for drug use, trespassing and noise violations in addition to alcohol consumption, this initial change to the code of conduct is a step in the right direction. It demonstrates that administrators are aware of the issues important to students and are unafraid to take the appropriate steps to address them.
According to the National College Health Assessment, about one in four females and one in 33 males will experience sexual assault in college. The National Institutes of Health added that about half of all those cases involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, survivor or both. Before the introduction of Georgetown’s alcohol amnesty policy, fear of being punished for alcohol violations could have deterred students from reporting incidents of sexual assault. Sanctions for alcohol violations vary depending on the presence of an accompanying violation, the time frame between violations and the student’s disciplinary history. Without the alcohol amnesty policy, a student who experiences sexual assault would have to weigh the costs of a possible alcohol violation with the benefits of receiving help.
The alcohol amnesty policy brings attention and conversation back to the real issue at hand: sexual assault. Creating an environment that allows a student to comfortably report sexual assault is imperative to creating a safer and more supportive campus. Implementation of this change is certainly reason to applaud university policymakers, but students should continue to demand resources to prevent sexual assault, promote awareness of sexual assault issues and support survivors of sexual assault on the Hilltop.