The memorandum of understanding brokered between the Georgetown University Student Association and the administration Tuesday addresses one of the most incendiary student issues in recent memory. Since July, the #IStandWithWilla campaign has dominated university dialogue and inspired numerous calls for administrative reform.
With Tuesday’s agreement to implement steps to foster a more supportive campus climate for sexual assault survivors, Georgetown’s administrative and student leaders offer an initial response to that question. The MOU outlines an agenda of specific, measurable and time-bound objectives to be met over the course of the 2015-16 academic year, ranging from the formation of a campus climate survey centered on sexual violence to the expansion of student health resources and staff. The initiative also includes efforts to promote awareness of victim rights and bystander responsibilities.
Such measures are certainly commendable and unquestionably vital to the cultivation of a safer, more survivor-centric campus environment. It is crucial, however, that the administration and GUSA regard their efforts as the beginning of a conversation rather than a solution to the grievances voiced by the growing survivor-centric movement.
While the MOU represents an impressive level of responsiveness on the part of campus leaders, survivors and allies should demand an equal responsiveness in examining how the above measures can be built upon in future years.
For example, the Georgetown community deserves mental health resources tailored specifically to its identity and needs. As this Editorial Board has already suggested, ongoing, mandatory programming promoting bystander intervention through a community of responsibility model can be used to build a culture of empathy on campus.
A joint Health Education/Women’s Center program assistant to make sure confidential advocates have time to meet with students who need help must also be entertained.
Without a system of revision to improve university resources, the administration puts its students at unacceptable risk.
With this in mind, those who stand with survivors ought to also stand for a practical, sustained and responsive commitment to student well-being.
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