Recently, GUSA sponsored a Sexual Assault Open Forum to continue the conversation between administration and students. Representatives from the administration included Carol Day (Director of Health Education Services – HES), Jennifer Wiggins (Sexual Assault Specialist – HES), Sergeant Sarah Halpren-Reuder (GUPD Sexual Assault Response Team – SART), Dr. Todd Olson (Vice President of Student Affairs), Dr. Phil Meilman (Director of Counseling and Psychiatric Services – CAPS), Judy Johnson (Director of the Office of Student Conduct – OSC), and Laura Cutway (Title IX Coordinator).
Information on Reporting:
The university is working on a standard timeline for sexual assault cases. After 30 days, Dr. Olson wants for the Title IX Coordinators and Office of Student Conduct to hear specifics (anecdotal evidence) on the case. It is complex, and both parties can send in evidence. Respondents have seven days to respond once a complaint is made. The Title IX Coordinators will then update the reporter weekly, even if no progress has been made. Ms. Cutway encourages people to follow up with her if they have concerns. If you want a case to remain confidential, it must go through HES, as Title IX is a semi-confidential resource. Dr. Olson stressed that specific outcomes cannot be publicly disclosed, but there have been serious consequences. Standard responses include suspension and expulsion from the university for sexual assault cases. Deans’ Offices have been accommodating to survivor needs.
Information from Each Specific Department:
Ms. Day and Ms. Wiggins highlighted the efforts of HES. They have created Center for Multicultural Equity and Access (CMEA) Walk-in Hours, and hope to further increase transparency and accessibility of resources, using a new brochure. As well, they intend to include more students of color and men in the conversation. Along with the Title IX office, a bystander education committee is being finalized. A bystander committee will work with What’s a Hoya, and will have housing point incentives for bystander education. They noted how HES has experienced an increased demand for services and hope to respond in a quick, accessible way, and make the process as easy for students as possible. HES wants to increase sexual assault education for first-year students, including a mandatory training session during NSO, Think About It, along with GUPD. HES has also continued to working with Sexual Assault Peer Educators (SAPE), which has 700+ students involved, with more partnerships with student organizations like the Corp in the works.
Dr. Meilman plans to grow CAPS staff incrementally in order to decrease wait times and increase availability to students. CAPS also emphasizes that all Georgetown students need to understand that the university does not tolerate this behavior. They have enacted a policy for a free semester of CAPS services for survivors of sexual assault and respondents. CAPS is partnering with HES for coordinated care. Through the Mental Health Advisory Board, CAPS is altering the university’s Medical Leave of Absence (MLOA) policies to create more safety nets for returning students.
Ms. Cutway and the Title IX Office plan to increase reporting by ensuring that students understand the process of reporting. They have created a flow chart of how to access services, checklist for confidential and non-confidential resources, list of Title IX staff, FAQ, and better website for online reporting. They also intend to put more emphasis on a bystander intervention program in order to prevent sexual assaults. The Title IX Office hired Samantha Berner as the Title IX Investigator back in December.
Dr. Olson supports a working group for bystander intervention programs and an increased focus on resources for graduate students. He acknowledges that our current reporting system is not perfect, but they are working towards improvements. He continues to build relationships with HES and CAPS and increase partnerships between students and administrators. “Open dialogue and shared work has led to action,” he stated at the event.
Sgt. Halpren-Reuder provided updates on GUPD SART. They are no longer required to report sexual assaults to the Metro Police Department. GUPD SART plans to better bridge the gaps between law enforcement officers and students. All new hires receive an orientation, and the entire department is trained in crisis intervention. SART currently includes 14 officers with forty hours of specialized training, who help students access necessary resources after a crisis.
Ms. Johnson and the OSC are training for hearing boards, which will provide the university with trauma-informed training from outside experts.
All GoCards from this point forward have phone numbers for emergency resources, including CAPS and GUPD, printed on the back. You can replace yours for free at the GoCard Office on the ground floor of Darnall Hall, next to Epi and the Student Health Center.
If working with HES, STI testing can be access for free from Washington Hospital Center through coordination with Student Health.