While the Year in Review highlights the events and themes that have defined the past year on the Hilltop, some stories have not been neatly tied up in time for the conclusion of classes.
Student Charged with Ricin Possession
On the morning of March 18, residents of McCarthy Hall awoke in confusion to the sounds of sirens, and federal agents partitioning off a McCarthy 6 corridor. In the days that followed, it would be revealed that Daniel Milzman (COL ’16), a physics major on a pre-med track, had been manufacturing the biological toxin ricin in his dorm room. Milzman, 19, the son of a research director at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, with whom he has co-authored several articles, served as captain and founder of the Quiz Bowl team on campus as well as a member of the Secular Student Alliance.
Since March 21, Milzman has been held in D.C. jail after U.S. District Court Chief Justice Richard Roberts overturned a magistrate judge’s earlier ruling to release Milzman into his parents’ care to pursue psychiatric treatment March 31, instead ruling that Milzman be placed under “rigorous suicide watch” due to the possibility that Milzman could have been manufacturing the toxin for use on other individuals or himself. A status hearing will take place May 1 with a trial date forthcoming.
Free Speech Policy Awaits Revision
Eighteen minutes — the amount of time it took Georgetown University Police Department officials to remove members of H*yas for Choice attempting to table in Healy Circle during the Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life in January. The group was attempting to test the university’s Free Speech Policy that claimed that free speech is allowed in places other than Red Square.
At a subsequent speech forum Jan. 16, Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson told the campus community to expect a version of an updated free speech policy no later than the last day of classes.
“By the end of the semester, we will produce a document that tries to really clarify and smooth out a lot of these issues. It will not solve all of them, but it is the best step forward to try to get clearer and more explicit,” Olson said at the time. “Before the last day of classes this semester, we will produce at least a version of that.”
While the university has yet to produce the revision, Olson assured that it would be ready before students go home for summer.
“We’re almost there. We’ve had very good work in the Speech and Expression Committee. It’s been intensive work during the semester and those folks are finalizing it and putting the finishing touches on it,” Olson said Wednesday of the work of the committee, which is composed of four faculty members and four student representatives.
Olson highlighted some changes that can be expected from the revised policy.
“It’s about expanding student opportunities for tabling around campus, it’s about clarifying rights and opportunities that exist for students, making sure students are aware of those,” Olson said. “It is aimed at providing a clear pathway for students who have concerns about the speech and expression policy to raise them and have them responded to in an effective way.”
In the meantime, H*yas for Choice and fellow unrecognized campus organizations are waiting in limbo to determine how the new policies will affect their groups.
“Until the Division of Student Affairs and other offices ensure that all members of the campus community are able to and feel comfortable expressing their own ideas, it is impossible for Georgetown to brand itself as an institution that promotes meaningful dialogue,” H*yas for Choice President Abby Grace (SFS ’16) wrote in an email.