On a campus where most forms of physical or emotional hostility are thankfully rare, it can be especially jarring when we learn of an incident that challenges our notions of safety — both close to home and from afar.

Last week, one of our classmates was antagonized and accosted. The impetus was an anti-gay slur intended to belittle the victim and destroy the victim’s self-confidence, culminating in physical harm and hospitalization. In an act of cowardice, the assailant fled the scene.

In moments like these, it is saddening and frustrating to see that such overt forms of bigotry still exist. In this case, it was homophobia; in Ferguson, Mo., it was racism; with Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens, it was misogyny. And no matter how our policies are shaped to punish offenders like these, they have proven to be inadequate deterrents. After all, if the Metropolitan Police Department and Georgetown University Police Department are unable to track down the Georgetown student’s assailant, in effect, they are unable to enforce the policies meant to protect us from harassment.

In combination with harsh consequences for offenders of these hate crimes, a more social, more personal deterrent is needed to eradicate — or at least greatly reduce the frequency — of these incidents. Policies only do so much, and our community needs to take action to show public solidarity with victims to demonstrate that, in this day and age, crimes that attack one’s personal identity will not be tolerated by an individual, or by the community.

GU Pride responded in full force to the incident and scheduled an event for reflection, but more members of our community need to join the group in showing our intolerance for hate crimes against Georgetown students.

These attacks are thankfully rare at Georgetown, but it is a disconcerting fact that any of us could be subject to an assault or slur like this one. In this case, complicity is not an option.

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