To the Editor:

While I am encouraged to see that New Student Orientation now includes an education component on sexual assault (“Anchors Aweigh for NSO 2014,” A7, Aug. 26, 2014), I hope to see a continued and aggressive effort to combat this problem.

Transparency and a clear message about the university’s commitment to prevention, punishment for offenders and support for victims are critical. Georgetown’s motto, “cura personalis,” promises care for each student as a whole person in a community of “women and men for others.”

The principle of beneficence demands that we act to help others in the face of a known threat or harm, and university administrators across the country know that within weeks of stepping on campus as freshmen, some number of students become victims of sexual assault by other members of the student body. This “Red Zone,” between arriving on campus and Thanksgiving break, is well-targeted early in the year, so the NSO program is a positive step, though the program’s name, “I am Ready,” is hardly clear on the point of sexual assault prevention.

If we are to destigmatize sexual assault and dissuade would-be perpetrators, we must speak in direct terms. All institutions, perhaps especially Catholic ones, should encourage open dialogue and work to remove sexual assault from the shadows. Silence encourages continued abuse and allows perpetrators to act with impunity. We must not mince words or stay silent if we hope to achieve a true climate of cura personalis, in which all respect their fellow students’ capacity for consent, victims are embraced and come forward without fear and justice is served. All Georgetown parents, myself included, should demand that the university maintains its focus until these goals are achieved for all students.

Bonnie Stabile

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