Georgetown administrators finally release statement about sexual assaults

After more than a dozen similar sexual assaults on and around campus over the past year and a half (including two this past week), the Georgetown administration has finally sent out a message about the issue to the campus community.

This evening, Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson and Vice President of University Safety Rocco DelMonaco sent out a broadcast e-mail about the incidents:

It is important to remember that those who perpetrate assaults are responsible for the harm they do. Descriptions that refer to some suspects as a “cuddler” detract from the serious nature of these incidents. We are committed to working with MPD to prevent crime, apprehend suspects, and enhance the safety and security of our campus community …

Working together we can prevent crime and help to keep our campus safe. Caring for one another is central to the Jesuit mission to be Women and Men for Others, and to care for one another and our campus community. Please join us in raising awareness and taking steps to address this set of issues.

I’ve complained about the administration’s relative silence about sexual assault issues in the past. When asked by the Voice on Tuesday about why the administration hasn’t been more vocal about sexual assaults, University President John DeGioia said, “right now the kinds of interventions that we have we think are proportionate to that kind of activity and this kind of concern.”

It’s nice to see the University finally explicitly address this problem, though—better late than never, after all.

Read the full broadcast e-mail after the jump…

Dear Students,

As we begin the academic year and approach a long weekend, we are writing to you today about the serious issue of campus safety and sexual assault. As you may know, our campus and surrounding neighborhoods have experienced incidents over the past year, and several in the past week. We are working closely with the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in their ongoing investigation of these incidents and have resources in place to educate our community, respond to those in need, and protect the safety of our community.

It is important to remember that those who perpetrate assaults are responsible for the harm they do. Descriptions that refer to some suspects as a “cuddler” can detract from the serious nature of these incidents. We are committed to working with MPD to prevent crime, apprehend suspects, and enhance the safety and security of our campus community.

We have a comprehensive set of services and programs available to students related to sexual assault prevention and response. We conduct educational programming such as RU Ready, which will be held this year on September 30th, to engage the community in facilitated discussions about issues of sexual assault. We support student initiatives such as Take Back the Night and Men Creating Change, which promote awareness about sexual assault and domestic violence. And we provide individualized services for students through our Counseling and Psychiatric Service (CAPS), the Women’s Center and Health Education Services. Students in need of confidential support or assistance may contact the Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Coordinator (SARVC) at (202) 687-0323 for help. Residence Life, Off-Campus Student Life staff and chaplains in residence also provide resources for students. Information about these programs is available at be.georgetown.edu. The Department of Public Safety (DPS) is also organizing self-defense training, the RAD Program, which will offer students another resource they may find valuable.

When campus officials are informed of incidents that may pose an ongoing threat to members of the campus community, we work closely with MPD to actively investigate incidents and alert the campus community through the Public Safety Alert system. As we begin the school year, the DPS has increased the number of officers on campus, added patrols on and off campus and has been working to remind students about safety as part of orientation sessions and residence hall meetings.

While the responsibility for assaults rests with the perpetrator, there are steps that students can take to be mindful of their personal safety. At social activities where alcohol is consumed, it is important for friends to look out for one another, and to be aware of possible risks as perpetrators will many times use alcohol to facilitate sexual assaults. Students should also lock room and apartment doors and windows. We all should be careful about walking alone, especially late at night, and take advantage of late night safety shuttle routes or Safe Rides escorts. It is also important to report any suspicious individuals or activities to DPS immediately at (202) 687-4343. DPS and MPD want this information because it helps to prevent incidents and solve those that have occurred. DPS has received calls this very week that are valuable in the ongoing investigations of several unsolved assaults.

Working together we can prevent crime and help to keep our campus safe. Caring for one another is central to the Jesuit mission to be Women and Men for Others, and to care for one another and our campus community. Please join us in raising awareness and taking steps to address this set of issues.

One Comment on “Georgetown administrators finally release statement about sexual assaults

  1. Pingback: Vox Populi » Vox’s guide to outside coverage of the recent sexual assaults

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