Clearing up some GUSA confusion over sexual assault policies

20130324201255-Infographics-01If you have been living under a rock (or in the safety of your dorm room attempting to hide from the dreaded door knocking), you are probably well aware that Georgetown is now underway with the GUSA executive elections to determine who the President and Vice President of the grand student bureacracy will be.

What you may not know, however, is that there has been misunderstanding and miscommunication of the University’s current sexual assault policies in the candidates’ proposals in their respective campaign platforms.

Under the “Empowering” section of their platformThomas Lloyd (SFS ’15) and Jimmy Ramirez‘s (COL ’15) want to “require that the Title IX Coordinator be the sole point person to whom any incident of sexual assault or harassment is reported by the survivor if the survivor intends on pursuing campus action via the Student Code of Conduct.”

After reviewing this proposal, Sexual Assault Peer Educators student representative Alyssa Peterson (COL ’14), who has also been involved in developing the University’s new sexual assault website, explained that there needs to be more than one contact for sexual assault cases than just the current Title IX Coordinator Dr. Jeanne Lord.

“Dr. Lord is legally mandated by Title IX to investigate and respond,” said Peterson. “She may not be able to keep survivor confidentiality—this is not her fault; she is required under the 2011 Dear Colleague letter.” She also believes that the University should implement a dual system using both confidential resources and Dr. Lord. Both the Tezel/Jikaria and the Weiss/Greco tickets suggest adding confidential resources.

In Zach Singer (SFS ’15) and Dan Silkman‘s (COL ’15) platform, one of the statements listed on their website under the “Pluralism” goal is that they will “strongly support adding a sexual assault component to New Student Orientation” and that “GUSA will arrange for peer educators to visit freshman floors for a shortened training and discussion program.”

Upon reading this GUSA proposal, Peterson found certain aspects to be duplicative. “SAPE conducts our own outreach and is totally out of GUSA’s control…[it] lacks money for training educators, let alone training freshman floors,” she wrote to Vox. “We’re already putting sexual assault in NSO.”

Peterson says that Code of Conduct reform is needed the most. “It’s about making sure sexual history can’t be brought up in hearings, including closed circuit cameras, and allowing students to be removed from hearing boards if survivors don’t want to see them after the hearings walking around campus,” said Peterson.

GUSA’s suggestions on improved sexual assault policies, released the last week of January, covers many of these issues.

In regard to the recent revisions of the student code of conduct, which added an alcohol amnesty clause, Director of Media Relations Rachel Pugh told Vox that these changes were made by the Disciplinary Review Committee in response to general concerns that the potential for adjudication for underage consumption of alcohol might prevent students from reporting alleged sexual assault.

“In fairness to all parties, complainants and respondents, will now be exempt from charges of underage possession or consumption of alcohol in cases of sexual misconduct and/or sexual assault,” said Pugh. “The committee determined that this was an important barrier to remove.”

Photo via indiegogo

3 Comments on “Clearing up some GUSA confusion over sexual assault policies

  1. Thanks Vox. One more clarification:

    Thomas and Jimmy’s point to “require that the Title IX Coordinator be the sole point person to whom any incident of sexual assault or harassment is reported by the survivor if the survivor intends on pursuing campus action via the Student Code of Conduct,” is different from mandating that all cases go through Dr. Lord regardless of intentions to report, which would be a harmful idea. For conduct purposes, as they state, the university is already ensuring that Dr. Lord is the point of contact for cases where survivors want to go through a conduct process. As a result, their proposal does not represent a shift in university policy. Still, it is astute that they point this out, as it shows they have read the Dear Colleague Guidance and have a working understanding of Title IX.

    Regarding a dual system, the university already has a dual system–my thought is that we should add more confidential resources.

  2. Just when we thought we were in the clear of GUSA politicking, this pops up. Where is the disclaimer that Alyssa Peterson is a huge member of Trevor & Omika’s campaign? Where is the disclaimer that Alyssa Peterson’s preferred tickets cross endorsement is Ben and Sam? This just reeks of a collaborative hit piece by Alyssa Peterson & Marisa Hawley on the two tickets Alyssa at least has no interest in supporting. While these corrections may be factual, something is telling me the Ben and Sam or Trevor and Omika have PLENTY of misrepresentations or inconsistencies in their platforms. Is that not being highlighted because Alyssa isn’t the driving force like she is here? It’s truly a shame that something as important as sexual assault has now become something that some people and campaigns are using to give themselves a political upper hand. I can’t wait for this GUSA crap to finally be finished, because Alyssa is normally an incredible person.

  3. Vox, you’ve had generally solid coverage throughout this campaign. But this article makes Fox News look like a paragon of journalistic excellence.

    You wrote a story firing shots at two candidates’ policies, and your only source for these supposed flaws is one of the most outspoken supporters of another candidate. Literally. Your ONLY source.

    This would be like if the Washington Post wrote a purported “news” article criticizing a policy of Barack Obama’s, based entirely on evidence provided by Karl Rove. It’s sloppy editing at best, blatant PR spinning at worst. If you want to write this kind of piece, go work for the candidate.

    Clean it up, Vox. You’re better than this.

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