“Georgetown University is committed to promoting an environment that supports the safety and dignity of all its members,” reads Georgetown’s Student Code of Conduct. “The University views with the utmost seriousness all offenses against individuals, including – but certainly not limited to – sexual harassment, sexual assault, unwanted sexual advances and any other form of consensual sexual activity,”

This goal of a safe and healthy campus, issued by Georgetown’s Office of Public Affairs, has yet to be fully realized according to student group AFIRMS (Advocates for Improved Response Methods to Sexual Assault).

In order to alleviate what it considers significant discrepancies between current policies and campus occurrences of sexual assault, AFIRMS recently put forth a “New Resolution” proposal, outlining perceived inadequacies. Its complaints address a variety of issues including the university’s definitions of sexual assault and misconduct, the adjudication process, sanctioning and disclosure of sexual offenses.

“The sexual assault policy is very important; students were involved in drafting the original policy,” University President John J. DeGioia said. “If the community sees the need for review [of the current policy], it’s appropriate for them [students] to be involved.”

AFIRMS’s recent release to the administration outlines specific concerns that students, particularly those who have been victims of campus assault, are adamant about changing. Specifically, the inappropriate categorization of some cases of rape under “sexual misconduct,” the lack of necessary sensitivity training for the hearing and appeals boards, insensitive hearing procedures, inadequate disciplinary actions given to sexual assault assailants and most notably the nondisclosure policy that requires victims to remain silent regarding the details of their case to maintain confidentiality for the assailant.

According to the university’s policy found in the Student Handbook, there are three divisions of offenses: category A for minor violations, category B for offenses, resulting in housing probation or suspension and category C for felonies. The major concern of AFIRMS and other students pushing for change is that sexual misconduct is categorized as only a B offense. Category B offenses encompass indecent/offensive verbosity and communication, explicit touching and penetration without obtaining consent, or emotional intimidation. Consequently, extreme cases of assault, such as rape, can ultimately be applied as category B sexual misconduct offenses as opposed to being classified as a felony in category C, which is distinguished by force.

AFIRMS presented its position in this passage of its proposal, which it is currently discussing with various administrators within the Office of Public Affairs and Health Education Services.

“We, the members of AFIRMS, believe that all forms of non-consensual sexual penetration, as defined by the University’s Student Code of Conduct, should be included under the heading of sexual assault,” the proposal reads. “As it stands non-consensual sexual penetration is `sexual misconduct,’ which is an outrageous euphemism that hides what such acts really are: rape. Since both of these offenses are done without consent, the university is creating a fictional dichotomy between them by categorizing force-based sexual penetration differently from sexual penetration perpetrated without physical force.”

Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson did not make specific comment at the time of press, but said that the university is actively engaging in dialogue and discussion with AFIRMS and other various students and committees.

“We as administrators regard sexual assault and related issues as very serious matters. We are committed to assuring that our responses are as effective and caring as possible, and that we provide a coordinated approach to this important issue. We appreciate the time and thoughtfulness that AFIRMS students have put into their analyses, and we

look forward to our continued work with them,” Olson said.

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