The Georgetown University Student Association passed a resolution on Sunday that will allow the senate to discuss adding a more serious penalty for hate crimes in the Student Code of Conduct.

In the Code of Conduct, bias – as a motivation for crime – is considered an aggravating parameter but not a separate violation. Class C violations – which include arson, weapon possession, counterfeit production, selling drugs, physical and sexual assault, coercion, stalking and theft over $500 – are considered more severe when the incident is bias-related.

Senator Josh Mogil (SFS ’11), who introduced the bill, said that under the existing system, hate crimes are not treated severely enough.

“I am recommending this initial step,” Mogil said. “This bill is not suggesting specific changes that have to be met but is inviting a discussion of a code of conduct that does not really reflect the realities of today.”

The resolution also included an endorsement of the addition of “disability and/or physical handicap” to “race, disability, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, religion [and] sexual orientation” as categories for bias-related incidents.

“When you’re a victim, you’re alone and you feel like the world is caving in on you,” said Mogil, who was a victim of bias-related assault during his freshman year at Georgetown. “No one has a right to be treated differently just because of who they are, and I think this is an important thing that we can all agree on.”

Some senators objected to the resolution because they said that students who have crimes committed against them – regardless of bias – should be treated the same way.

“I think we’re all really sympathetic to bias-related attacks, but I think any student who is inflicted [with] any pain should be treated the same way – it’s an inherent part of our justice system,” senator Nick Troiano (COL ’11) said.

The resolution also recommended that the senate look into other possible deficiencies in the Code of Conduct. It suggested that the “burden of proof” portion of the alcohol policy, which allows for groups of students to be declared guilty or innocent as a whole, be examined. Current policy requires that students caught in a room with contraband alcohol be sanctioned even if only some of the students are participating in the prohibited activity.

Troiano also said that he was concerned that the legislation was too vague and that a specific committee, not the entire senate, should look into it.

The resolution passed, with seven votes in favor, six against and one abstention.

Later in the meeting, senator Arman Ismail (COL ’11) updated the senate on the rat presence on campus.

Ismail said he spoke to Director of Facilities Management Richard Payant, who said that Facilities is aware of the problem and is implementing measures to deal with it.

Ismail said that the biggest problem is that students leave out food and waste, which attract rats.

“An important part of trying to solve this problem is that students need to be aware of better [sanitation] practices,” he said.

Senate speaker Adam Talbot (COL ’12) also announced that the GUSA archives and bylaws will now be available to the public at www.box.net/gusasenate, in another effort to increase transparency and accountability. “

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