The Georgetown University Student Association senate unanimously passed a resolution Oct. 15 calling on administrators to commit to implementing the Sexual Assault and Misconduct Task Force’s recommendations.
The task force, established by University President John J. DeGioia in June 2016, developed a list of 11 recommendations to university administrators for improving preventative measures against sexual misconduct. The recommendations included mandatory education for all Georgetown students on sexual misconduct, trauma-informed training for the Georgetown University Police Department on sexual assault response and training for faculty and staff on sexual misconduct reporting.
The senate resolution urges administrators to prevent students who do not complete the mandatory bystander intervention training from preregistering for classes. The resolution also calls for more funding for bystander intervention training and more staff and resources for the Student Health Center, Counseling and Psychiatric Services, the Women’s Center, the LGBTQ Resource Center, the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access and the Academic Resource Center.
The resolution also encouraged the Office of the Provost to inform faculty and staff of recommendations published by the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship. The center, which aims to bridge the gap between teaching methods and technological advancements, has published materials about how to foster more inclusive atmospheres in the classroom. GUSA is calling for interaction between faculty and staff and CNDLS once per semester.
Sylvia Levy (SFS ’18), vice speaker of the GUSA senate, previously said in a speech before the senate elections this year that the GUSA senate should pressure the university to fulfill its commitments to preventing sexual assault on campus. Georgetown’s Title IX coordinator, Laura Cutway, said she plans to meet with Levy to learn more about integrating the requests of GUSA’s resolution and how to partner with the senate to combat sexual violence on campus.
Jennifer Wiggins, staff clinician and sexual assault specialist for Georgetown Health Education Services, said that, though the university’s education initiatives have room for improvement, current programs have worked well and will continue to improve.
“Education on sexual violence is working within our community,” Wiggins wrote in an email to The Hoya. “I am able to measure this through my work as the staff adviser for the Sexual Assault Peer Educators. Our curriculum continues to evolve to meet the expanded knowledge around issues of sexual violence. It is evident that the goals of wanting to build a community of care and create cultural change are in process.”
Wiggins said resolutions like the one the senate recently passed reflect a strong commitment to sexual violence prevention.
“The stance that both Georgetown’s administration and the student body has taken on sexual violence, to me, says, is one of non-tolerance that stands with survivors,” Wiggins wrote.
The administration and GUSA have previously worked closely to address the problem of sexual assault on campus. The GUSA executive and Georgetown administrators signed a memorandum of understanding in January 2016 that outlined steps the university could take to expand education initiatives and publicize resources for survivors.
The memorandum required the university to implement bystander intervention training, print information about off-campus sexual assault resources on GOCards and place informative stickers on bathroom stall doors. It also expedited the process of establishing a full-time Title IX coordinator and demanded the completion of a campus climate survey in January 2016.
Nina Young (SFS ’19), deputy chief of staff of health and wellness and leader of the GUSA Sexual Assault and Student Safety team, said university-driven programs that address sexual misconduct are successful.
But administrators have hesitated to support student-led efforts to change campus climate, according to Young.
“The initiatives that are student-led or that students have been pushing for are the ones that have been pushed back against,” Young said.
Young said the Sexual Assault and Student Safety team is currently creating a short educational video for the university to show before basketball games in the Capital One Arena. The video aims to inform audience members about how to address sexual misconduct.
According to Young, the university changed the script of the video to detail the initiatives the university has started to address sexual violence.
Young said she found the university administrators reluctant to take student opinions into account.
“I’m on a couple teams that worked with administration on problems of sexual assault and student safety, and it seems to be a lot of students giving opinions and the administrators being like, ‘yeah, maybe,’” Young said.
Young called for more transformative policies that would restructure campus culture and engage students in preventative measures against sexual violence on campus, saying university initiatives “deal with more symptoms than the actual core of the problem, which has to do with transforming culture.”
“I feel like for that, we really need to put out more initiatives on education and include students in these conversations,” Young said.