Content Warning: This letter mentions sexual assault; please read with caution and know that there are resources to talk to if you need them, including Health Education Services ([email protected]), Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS), the Women’s Center, the LGBTQ Resource Center and Project Lighthouse (www.projectlighthousegu.com).
The Hoya’s editorial board recently published an editorial calling for resignations by the entire Georgetown University Student Association executive in light of sexual assault allegations against former GUSA President Sahil Nair (SFS ’19). This prescription is based upon limited knowledge on the events of the past days and a lack of familiarity with how our teams function. Through its ignorance, we believe that The Hoya has exacerbated the trauma that our community has experienced. We would like to share our experiences for the sake of transparency.
As policy chairs in the GUSA executive, we were intentionally excluded by senior GUSA staff from the discussions leading to Tuesday’s “resignations.” Most of us learned of these allegations from the press; while those above us in the GUSA hierarchy were given a chance to decide on a united course of action to remove the president from power, we were kept in the dark. It seemed as though little to no consideration was given to the sensitive nature of the situation, which harmed the mental health of many in the GUSA community and the student body as a whole. We want accountability for those in the executive who acted without transparency.
We are also concerned about the future of our policy work. We care deeply about our advocacy areas and we do this work because we love it. We have worked in our policy areas for months or years, and senior leadership has very little influence over what we do. Our accessibility team has done important work holding the university accountable to Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Our mental health team has implemented the off-campus therapy stipend program to ensure students can access counselling they need. Our LGBTQ inclusivity team is working to mandate that professors use students’ preferred pronouns in class, and our technology team is hoping to bring free printing to campus next semester. These things may not always be front-page news, but they serve various needs of our campus community. Even temporary suspension of policy teams could set this advocacy work back significantly.
Finally, campus media should know better than anyone that no one holds a moral monopoly in situations like these. The editorial board implied that everyone in the GUSA senate is “innocent” and everyone in the executive is “guilty,” but the reality is that there are people in both bodies who knew to varying degrees and people in both bodies who were excluded from this process entirely. We are prepared to work together with the senate to make genuine progress going forward and hope that The Hoya will investigate further before making condemnatory blanket statements in the future.
We are encouraging each other to practice self-care and to leave GUSA for mental health reasons if necessary. However, because of the editorial board’s statement, any resignations now seem as though they were done so out of guilt or complicity. Indiscriminately denouncing certain groups only serves to further the trauma of this situation for survivors and others among our ranks and across our campus.
Anna Landre is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service and accessibility chair. Kenna Chick is a junior in the SFS and mental health chair. Grace Perret is a junior in the College and sexual assault and student safety chair. Monica Rivero is a junior in the College and undocumented student groups chair. Sina Nemazi is a sophomore in the College and dining chair. MacKenzie Grimm is a sophomore in the College and LGBTQ inclusivity chair.