University promises new Sexual Misconduct Procedures manual

Update, Tuesday 11:11 pm: GUSA executives Trevor Tezel (SFS ’15) and Omika Jikaria (SFS ’15) worked with the University to devise the new sexual assault policies.

“These reforms will empower survivors of sexual assault by ensuring a professional investigation is conducted, students’ rights are made clear, and irrelevant information, like a student’s dress or sexual history, are rendered inadmissible,” Tezel said in a press release. “I’m proud of collaboration between GUSA, numerous GU students, student organizations, and administrators to secure these much needed changes to our campus sexual assault policy.”

“Today’s announcement is a clear step in the right direction for combatting sexual assault and violence on campus,” Jikaria said. “These changes reflect Georgetown’s deep commitment to students’ rights and safety, and I look forward to working with the University to implement these changes.”

Original post: In an email to the Georgetown University community sent today, Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson announced a slew of new changes to student conduct processes. Chief among them were new announcements concerning how the University promises to handle sexual misconduct and assault.

In his email, Olson promised a new Sexual Misconduct Procedures manual “in alignment with recent guidance from the White House and Office of Civil Rights.”

Earlier this year, the White House issued a report on how colleges should work to address and prevent sexual assaults on their campuses. The report claims that one in five college women is sexually assaulted, often by someone she knows.

The White House was responding to several high-profile sexual assault cases, including one instance where Tufts University mishandled information concerning sexual assaults and violated federal anti-discrimination law.

“Colleges and universities can no longer turn a blind eye or pretend rape and sexual assault doesn’t occur on their campuses,” Vice President Joe Biden said at the time, according to the Post. “We need to provide survivors with more support and we need to bring perpetrators to more justice and we need colleges and universities to step up.”

The changes announced today by Olson will work to such an end. In addition to a new Procedures manual, Olson wrote that “trained investigators” will be assigned to investigate the circumstances of a possible sexual assault prior to a hearing and that Hearing Panel members will receive more training. Each Hearing Panel will now have three members (two faculty or staff and one student) instead of five. Finally, closed-circuit video will be used to reduce interaction between a Complainant and a Respondent during each hearing.

The rest of Olson’s email announced the administration’s intention to develop new policies about hazing, harassment, and bullying and a procedure to enforce off-campus trash disposal that will not become part of a student’s disciplinary record.

The email also formally announced the new policy concerning amnesty for freshmen who commit only one alcohol, noise, or trash violation during their freshman year, which Vox reported on last week.

Photo: Georgetown Voice

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