Two Georgetown students were attacked in separate bias-related incidents off campus reported in the past week, according to a campuswide email from Georgetown University Police Department Chief Jay Gruber and Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson yesterday.
Gruber and Olson wrote that a group of four white men approached a student of Asian descent and spat on him on the 3200 block of Prospect Street on Nov. 11.
The second incident occurred Nov. 13 on the 3700 block of Prospect Street A female student, who was wearing a scarf resembling a hijab, was shoved to the ground while walking and was told by a group of four to six white men to take the scarf off.
The Metropolitan Police Department is working with GUPD to investigate the crimes.
Both Olson and Gruber confirmed to The Hoya that there has been a recent increase in bias-related incidents in the week following the presidential election.
“We have seen an increase in these incidents over the past week. We are seeking to inform and support our students — through the bias reporting system, these broad communications, and the offices and services that are always there to support students,” Olson wrote in an email to The Hoya.
The Georgetown Code of Student Conduct defines a bias-related incident as one in which individuals are targeted based on their actual or perceived race, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion or disability. Student instigators of bias-related incidents can be subject to disciplinary action, including expulsion from the university.
The email said the two students both submitted reports to GUPD and the perpetrators of both attacks were similarly described as a group of four to six white men, though there is no evidence of a connection between the two incidents.
“We are a community that welcomes all people and that values understanding, dignity, inclusion and respect. Acts of hate and bias are unacceptable and antithetical to our commitment to an inclusive and respectful community. Recently we learned of two troubling incidents involving our students that are bias-related,” the email reads. “It is unclear if they are related.”
A statement from Georgetown’s Asian American Student Association condemned the attacks while expressing solidarity with other minorities.
“We stand in solidarity with our fellow Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, African Americans, Muslim Americans, Latinx, Hispanics, immigrants, women, and members of the LGBTQ community. An attack against one group is an attack against all; we do not tolerate bigotry in any way, shape, or form. We acknowledge the intersectionality among groups and urge our community to strive towards inclusion, empathy, and understanding,” the statement reads.
Neither Olson nor Gruber provided statistics on recent bias-related incidents to The Hoya.
According to Gruber, GUPD first ensures the safety of the victims and then documents the bias-related incident.
“We make sure the person is safe, take a police report and refer the person to the bias reporting form,” Gruber wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Olson recommends that students who have experienced or witnessed similar incidents report them either through the online bias reporting system or a GUPD report.
“We strongly encourage any student (and any member of our community) who is experiencing assaults or threatening behavior to report it through GUPD or through the university’s bias reporting system,” Olson wrote.
AASA Political Awareness Committee Chair Meredith Peng (SFS ’17) said Asian-Americans must be more politically involved with issues regarding racial discrimination given the proximity of the recent incidents.
“Now, more than ever, we need to be in an activist mindset — that means speaking out when you see harassment, supporting one another in the face of discrimination and fighting back against hatred and bigotry,” Peng wrote in an email to The Hoya. “It’s terrible that this has happened so close to home — and frankly terrifying — but we can and should use this as an opportunity to unite and show solidarity.”