Safety & Sexual Assault

Barriers:

Beginning in Fall 2013, the prevalence of campus sexual assault and dating violence has burst into the national conscience. An estimated 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men experience sexual assault during their undergraduate career. 43% of college women report experiencing dating violence. In response to the gravity of this issue, colleges and universities across the country have taken steps to bolster their policies and educational programming-- Georgetown is no exception. That said, change is never easy and a number of barriers have hindered progress.

Georgetown’s administrative bureaucracy ensures that all changes take place at an incremental pace. A lack of funding prevents the university from creating new educational programs and from hiring more on-campus resources. Gaps in data about the prevalence of sexual assault and misconduct on Georgetown’s campus makes it challenging for the university to respond appropriately. General apathy and lack of awareness among students enables the university to not make the issue as big of a priority. We have to stand together and unilaterally call for change if we want to make a difference.  

Policies:

  • Work with the administration to replace Dr. Welsh, the Vice President of Student Health Services, in a timely manner and involve students in the hiring process
  • Change the definition of dating violence and domestic violence in the Code of Student Conduct, as the current definitions place too much emphasis on physical force and define domestic violence as an “intrafamily offense.”
  • Sample language drawn from the Columbia and American University Codes of Conduct:
    • “Dating Violence”—violence or abusive behavior against an intimate partner (romantic, dating, or sexual partner) that seeks to control the partner or has caused harm to the partner (the harm may be physical, verbal, emotional, economic, or sexual in nature). The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on consideration of the following factors: the length of the relationship, the type of relationship, and the frequency of the interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. (AU)
    • “Domestic Violence”—violence or abusive behavior against a roommate, family member, or intimate partner that causes physical or psychological injury, pain, or illness. (AU)
    • “Domestic Violence” -- The use of physical violence, coercion, threats, intimidation, isolation, stalking, or other forms of emotional, psychological, sexual, technological, or economic abuse directed toward (1) a current or former spouse or intimate partner; (2) a person with whom one shares a child; or (3) anyone who is protected from the Respondent’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of New York. This includes behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, or physically injure someone. Domestic violence can be a single act or a pattern of behavior in relationships. (CU)
    • “Dating Violence”-- The use of physical violence, coercion, threats, intimidation, isolation, stalking, or other forms of emotional, psychological, sexual, technological, or economic abuse directed toward a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or sexually intimate nature with the victim. This includes behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, Gender-Based Misconduct Policy for Students (“Policy”) 4 coerce, threaten, or physically injure someone. Dating violence can be a single act or a pattern of behavior in relationships (CU)
  • Push the university to adopt Project Callisto, an online college sexual assault reporting system developed by survivors for survivors. Survivors can save a time-stamped record of what happened on the school-specific Callisto website -- this information is stored in a way that survivors can access it if they ever decide to pursue a formal case.
    • Project Callisto will also provide survivors with information about reporting options (police, school, etc.).
    • Survivors can choose to submit the record directly to the school, save it for later, or to opt into automatically reporting if someone else reports the same assailant.
  • Advocate for mandatory bystander intervention training for all Georgetown students in the spring semester.
  • Aid in the process of researching best practices to find a good model for Georgetown to pursue.
  • Continue conversations with the university about the necessity of absorbing the economic costs of violence in order to maintain compliance with Title IX.
    • Costs include but are not limited to: tutoring, counseling, medical treatments, and lost tuition.
  • Clarify Medical Leave of Absence Policy with related offices to eliminate financial and academic barriers for survivors.
    • Another added point is to ensure follow-up with students after they return from a MLOA.
  • Encourage student leaders to implement mandatory SAPE trainings for their board officers and leadership team.
  • Work with Georgetown MedStar to clarify the follow-up process with students who are sent to Washington Medical Center to have rape kits completed and ensure that all students are supported in this practice by the on-campus safety net.
  • Sponsor workshops and teach-ins on Title IX law and students’ rights.
  • Collect testimonies from students of color and LGBTQ students when it comes to police enforcement.
  • Increase awareness of confidential resources for students abroad.
  • Work closely with the Bias Related Incident Committee to gather feedback about the bias reporting process and increase general awareness.
  • Continue receiving feedback on SafeRides and working closely with GUPD to meet student needs and general safety at Georgetown.
  • Reallocate funds from late-night shuttle service towards university-funded transportation services such as Uber or Lyft.
  • Pressure the university to provide more support and follow up for survivors who lose their Student Conduct Case. No survivor should ever fall through the cracks even if their case is dismissed.
  • Support the university in disseminating a mandatory Campus Climate Survey by Spring 2016 and bring together other advocacy groups to collaborate on outreach for the survey.
  • Increase awareness about who are mandatory reporters by encouraging faculty to adopt syllabus language explaining their role.
  • Endorse the Run.Hide.Fight active shooter preparedness public awareness campaign.
  • A partnership between the Office of the Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President, the Georgetown University Police Department, the Department of Emergency Management and Operational Continuity, and Georgetown Against Gun Violence, the campaign and safety training program is a joint effort from administrators and student organizations on the Hilltop
  • Coordinate a GUPD/DEMOC-led safety training session for all GUSA staff and cabinet members to inform students about how we can mitigate both the risk and damage from from a potential gun-related incident on campus.
  • Appoint executive leadership to the Student Safety Advisory Board (which meets with Chief Gruber from GUPD on a bi-weekly basis) and to the Community Policing Table (new initiative led by Deputy Chief Joseph Smith).

Bridges

To make these policy changes and to support these programming initiatives, we will engage the student population with these issues, use rational arguments built on Campus Climate survey data to spread awareness, combat apathy with specific initiatives that encourage broad cultural change, and continue negotiations with administrators in bi-weekly Sexual Assault Policy Meetings to guarantee institutional support.