Unity Coalition Reports On Recent Work

Code Committee Considers Bias Policy

By Tim Haggerty Hoya Staff Writer

The Georgetown Unity Coalition, now two months into its work, is moving forward with plans for university reform in response to a recent series of bias-related incidents.

The Coalition, which includes leaders of the Black Student Association, MEChA, GU Pride, the Jewish Student Association and the Georgetown University chapter of the NAACP, has been working with university administrators to consider revising programming, curriculum, code and safety issues as they relate to bias-related incidents on campus.

The committee charged with considering revisions to the Student Code of Conduct is currently focusing its efforts on extending the code to include definitions and policy regarding bias-related incidents. The committee is looking to include “plain-English” guidelines to distinguish between free speech and threatening behavior, according to GU Pride President Simon Stevens (SFS ’00).

The committee is looking to institute an “umbrella clause,” whereby for all specific offenses, bias will be considered an aggravating factor, as alcohol is now, Stevens said.

The committee is also working to emphasize the Ethos Statement in order to “draw attention to the community standards of behavior expected of students,” Stevens said. He also said that the committee is working to mandate that all students sign the statement.

Stevens said that the committee has made significant progress and is now working on specific language for the code, which he hopes to be in effect for the fall.

Concerns about the Student Code of Conduct’s lack of a provision for hate crimes were raised in December, when the JSA menorah was knocked over twice during Hanukkah. In the second incident, a student was apprehended, and eventually withdrew from the university. In the wake of the event campus officials called for hate crime provisions. “The Code of Conduct needs to reflect the community . We must be proactive and respect the dignity and differences of the members of our community. We are here to learn together,” said Dean of Students James A. Donahue at a rally in February.

The safety and security committee is looking to develop a standard procedure for notifying the university student body, faculty and staff when bias-related incidents occur.

Earlier in the semester, Department of Public Safety officers underwent mandatory training for dealing with bias-related incidents. In addition to the training, DPS has announced that all bias-related incidents will be immediately referred to the etropolitan Police Department.

The community building and programming committee is looking to build community at Georgetown, which members say will be a proactive step in fighting acts of intolerance.

Lopez said that the committee has met once as a full committee and has formed three subcommittees that have each met once. The programming evaluation subcommittee is currently reviewing campus programming to identify and suggest improvements to lacking programming areas. In addition, the group will work with New Student Orientation to establish more diversity programming during the first-year orientation program.

The community building subcommittee is looking to find ways to break down communication barriers between students and administration on campus, while promoting Georgetown as a diverse campus in its student body, programming and policies.

Both students and administrators said that the Coalition and the university administration are on the same page and working toward positive change.

The last committee, in charge of considering changes to the curriculum at the university is the most long-term in goals, according to committee head Steve Glickman (COL ’02). Among those things being considered are adding comparative religion course options in theology and expanding the African Studies and Jewish Studies programs. In addition, the group is considering adding a requirement that students take certain courses signified “diversity courses,” available in a number of departments.

The committees plan to come together with more concrete results in mid-April.

Related Links

 GU Offers Response to Proposal

 Rally Draws Crowd for Cause

 Committee Considers Code of Conduct Changes

 Diversity Concerns Discussed

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