The Georgetown Sexual Assault and Misconduct Advisory Committee announced Nov. 2 the development of a Coordinated Community Response Team to focus on prevention and addressing the needs of survivors of sexual misconduct.

The team’s formation is part of an update on the committee’s response to recommendations from the Sexual Assault and Misconduct Task Force.

AMBER GILLETTE/THE HOYA | Students welcomed Georgetown’s announcement on the development of a Coordinated Community Response Team but criticized the university for a lack of transparency as it tackles sexual assault on campus.

The CCRT will include experts and leaders from the community and faculty, staff and students, according to SAMAC Co-Chairs Vince WinklerPrins, assistant vice president for student health, and Jennifer Woolard, associate professor of psychology. The team will focus on developing responses to sexual assault, sexual misconduct, harassment, stalking and interpersonal violence, particularly for those individuals from vulnerable populations.

The creation of the CCRT was one of 11 recommendations introduced by the Sexual Assault and Misconduct Task Force, a team established by President John J. DeGioia in response to the results of Georgetown’s inaugural Sexual Assault and Misconduct Climate Survey in Jan. 2016, which reported that of the respondents of the survey, one in three women had experienced sexual assault.

Kory Stuer (COL ’19), Avery Moje (COL ’19), Daria Crawford (COL ’20), Andy Turner (SFS ’20) and Susu Zhao (COL ’19) released an open letter to Rosemary Kilkenny, Todd Olson and Vince WinklerPrins on Aug. 31, regarding the lack of any updates about what progress SAMAC has made since the Climate Survey.

The students then met with Vice President of Institutional Diversity and Equity Rosemary Kilkenny, Olson and WinklerPrins on Sep. 20 and received a number of commitments, including to provide an update on SAMAC’s progress, according to Moje. The email sent Nov. 2 to the university community was the first response to the students’ demands, Moje said.

“The update that was released last Friday was the first time we saw a school-wide update released in response to our asks that we made in August and September,” Moje wrote in an email to The Hoya.

The university would not have updated the campus on developments in response to the recommendations from the task force had they not received pressure from students, Stuer said.

“Although this update was really helpful in a lot of ways, this was something that happened as a direct result of students asking for it,” Stuer said. “This was not something the university just gave to the campus.”

Following the Sept. 20 meeting, Stuer and Moje formed Students Taking Action against Interpersonal Violence, a student group formed  to pressure the university to increase its transparency in responding to the recommendations from the task force.

The group is concerned about the lack of timelines to hold the university accountable, Stuer said.

“Students need to know what concrete steps have been taken,” Stuer said. “There needs to be a place where they can find out that information.”

Students cannot hold SAMAC accountable if it does not regularly provide updates on its actions, Moje wrote.

“The University must also be setting accountability measures for itself and part of creating transparency with students is allowing students to hold the University to a certain standard, which includes implementing these recommendations on a reasonable timeline,” according to Moje.

The task force recommended that the CCRT begin working in the fall of 2017, but SAMAC’s recent update did not include a time frame for when the response team will be operational. Relevant administrators informed him that the team would be functional in the fall of 2019, Stuer said.

While this update was a step in the right direction, there still remains a lack of transparency in Georgetown’s sexual assault response and prevention policy, according to Moje.

“Even those of us students who work closely on sexual assault policy at Georgetown don’t really know what progress has been made,” Moje wrote.

Georgetown needs greater transparency surrounding Title IX resources and processes, Stuer said. The university currently employs an interim Title IX Coordinator, after the first full-time Title IX Coordinator, Laura Cutway, left her role in late June.

“They still haven’t told the student body that we have had a change in personnel around who is our Title IX coordinator. We don’t have a full-time Title IX coordinator. I don’t know how they can in good faith say they’re increasing transparency around Title IX when they haven’t even told the student body there’s been changes in who’s running it,” Stuer said. “If you ask 100 Georgetown students what the Title IX process is at Georgetown, 100 of them will tell you that they don’t know.”

As part of the university’s ongoing efforts to respond to recommendations from the task force, the university is finalizing plans to launch a second sexual misconduct campus climate survey in February 2019, according to Kilkenny.

“The university is also finalizing plans to launch our second sexual misconduct campus climate survey in February 2019,” according to Kilkenny. “Undergraduate, graduate and professional students will be invited to participate so that the university can learn important information about the nature and prevalence of campus sexual assault and misconduct.”

SAMAC recognized that there is still progress to be made and that its efforts are not finished, but they are committed to responding to recommendations from the task force.

“While SAMAC has made significant progress, our work is not finished,” SAMAC said in their email to the Georgetown community.

This story was updated at 5:03 p.m. on Nov. 9, 2018 to reflect Rosemary Kilkenny’s full title and to clarify details on the CCRT and the status of the university’s Title IX coordinator. 

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