Norton to Hold Forum On Campus Assault

Delegate Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-D.C.) will be hosting a panel of officials from various universities in Washington, D.C., to address the prevention of sexual assault on college campuses at American University on Thursday, April 23, but due to a time conflict with a similar Georgetown event, no university representatives will be officially attending Norton’s discussion.

The event aims to formulate and examine possible solutions to sexual assault on college campuses by gathering university student leaders and advocacy groups from a variety of institutions from around the District.

“Sexual assault is an ongoing crisis here and on our college campuses nationwide,” Norton said in a press release. “[But] this is a problem that can be solved.”

Norton confirmed the attendance of officials from American University, Howard University and the George Washington University at the event. There will be a chance for attendees to ask questions of the panelists and to submit ideas for discussion after the initial roundtable.

“Education, candid discussion, outreach and appropriate sanctions are among the tools that need to be put to work,” Norton said in the release. “We will seek the advice and recommendations of those most concerned and most involved.”

In a separate statement to The Hoya, Norton expressed a desire for students and administrators of universities around the District to attend and express their opinions in order to allow the event to be comprehensive for all college experiences.

“We hope students and advocates from every college and university in the city will join our roundtable and speak out to help all universities in the District prevent campus sexual assault,” Norton said.

Absent from those officially attending the panel are leaders from Georgetown, as the time of the roundtable conflicts with a sexual assault forum to be held on Georgetown’s campus in Copley Formal Lounge on April 23.

Hosted by the Sexual Assault Working Group, the forum will convene administrators from various offices of the university, including the Office of Student Conduct, the Division of Student Affairs and the Title IX Coordinator, on a panel to answer questions about campus sexual assault policy. The forum aims to encourage administrators to commit to specific initiatives.

Director of Media Relations Rachel Pugh noted that officials would be present at the Georgetown forum, which has been a long-standing commitment, and thus would be unable to attend Norton’s roundtable.

“Many campus leaders plan to attend this campus event,” Pugh wrote in an email. “[Students] should see some invites from student organizers soon.”

Georgetown University Student Association Deputy Director of Communications Jenna Galper (COL ’17) confirmed that because of the conflicting times, members of GUSA would not attend Norton’s event and instead they would attend the Georgetown one.

Despite the time conflict, Pugh also encouraged anyone who wanted to attend Norton’s discussion to do so. She said the most important aspect of the two events was that they provide an arena to talk about a major issue facing universities today with open and honest debate and discussion.

“Members of the Georgetown University community are invited to attend the roundtable hosted by Congresswoman Norton,” she wrote in an email. “As [University President John J.] DeGioia wrote to the community this fall, ‘At the heart of Georgetown’s mission is a commitment to serious and sustained discourse, even when topics are difficult to discuss.’”

Pugh added that Georgetown has been actively attempting to confront the issue of sexual assault by focusing on three areas: creating a culture where sexual assault is not tolerated, providing prompt resources to survivors, and responding effectively when an incident is reported.

She also said that, despite Georgetown’s peer education efforts to teach the student body about sexual assault, the forums were necessary to create a structured and institutional conversation about sexual assault.

“Effectively addressing this issue is an enduring challenge to which we are always adapting and renewing our long-standing commitment,” she wrote. “We have worked through student affairs to build on our education efforts with new programming for students.”

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