With hopes to improve on- and off-campus student safety, GUSA is planning three events in the next few weeks, beginning with a Safety Net Reception tonight. The reception, planned by the student association’s Health, Safety and Justice Advocacy Committee, features a keynote address by University President John J. DeGioia.

Tonight’s Safety Net Reception is intended to bring together students, faculty, staff and administrators who will work toward improving student health and safety. By bringing members of the Georgetown community who share the same goals under the one roof, the event’s organizers hope to better coordinate health and safety efforts on- and off- campus.

“A lot of people have the same interests in mind for students, but they’re all doing different things. It was actually kind of disappointing,” GUSA chief of staff Stephanie Swain (COL ’04) said. “This will bring them together.”

GUSA presented the idea to Daniel R. Porterfield, vice president for public affairs and special initiatives, who encouraged DeGioia to support the event.

“It will be a landmark event because President DeGioia will emphasize the importance of health and safety issues, and this can provide a great deal of momentum,” GUSA President Brian orgenstern (COL ’05) said.

The event will be held in the Riggs Library from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.tonight.

Next Wednesday, Sept. 24, is the “R U Ready?” Program, a student-initiated and student-run sexual assault forum.

Tami Weerasingha (COL ’04), chair of GUSA’s Health, Safety and Justice advocacy committee, helped lead planning efforts for the program, which is a sexual assault forum particularly aimed at first year students.

“They have just arrived at college and need to be exposed to some real facts concerning sexual assault,” Morgenstern said of the program’s target audience.

According to Weerasingha, the program will be divided into two sections. The first will feature student speakers who have some experience with sexual assault, but not necessarily as victims. Kate Dieringer (NHS ’05), who has alleged she was raped by a Georgetown student during her freshman year, is a scheduled speaker. The second portion of the forum will feature small discussion groups led by trained student leaders.

GUSA is also planning a campus-wide Health, Safety and Justice week, kicking-off on Oct. 20. Weerasingha anticipates groups like the FRIENDS Initiative, Open Minds and Students Ending Eating Disturbances, and the university’s martial arts and dance clubs will sponsor various events throughout the week.

Shannon Hunnicutt, sexual assault and health issues coordinator for Health Education Services, said she is pleased that students have been working to develop programming for health and safety events. “Students are just passionate about these issues and want to talk about them,” she said.

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