Summary of Georgetown University’s Recent Enhancements and Ongoing Work to Address Sexual Assault and Misconduct
Georgetown addresses the issue of sexual assault and misconduct through a combination of educational programs, policies, and resources that we are constantly working to enhance. Georgetown has a long history of providing a “safety net” of health professionals, response mechanisms, and services to support students who are struggling with complex personal health issues. Supporting survivors of sexual assault and misconduct has long been a part of this network. We have developed educational programs to address issues of sexual assault and misconduct and these programs are delivered throughout the academic year in various settings. University policies and codes of conduct address expectations and consequences related to sexual assault and misconduct.
We have had staffing focused on sexual assault and misconduct issues for more than a decade, with a full-time Sexual Assault Coordinator (now “Director of Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Services”) since 2003 and a part-time Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Liaison at the Law Center since 2009. The Sexual Assault Working Group, comprised of students, faculty, and staff, has worked on an ongoing basis for more than two decades to improve policies, review services for students, and promote educational outreach.
The information below provides an in-depth overview of the enhancements to our supportive services related to sexual assault and misconduct made during the 2016-2017 academic year and will be followed by a general summary of our current initiatives that seek to address campus sexual violence.
2016-2017 Enhancements and Initiatives:
Mini Fall 2016 Sexual Assault Awareness Campaign: As students returned to campus in fall 2016, they arrived to posters, flyers, sandwich boards, and digital screens highlighting data from the Climate Survey and relevant resources. Some examples of headlines included: “Talk. Georgetown has confidential counselors ready to listen. Confidential email: firstname.lastname@example.org” and “3 out of 4 students don't know where to get help about sexual assault. Do you? sexualassault.georgetown.edu.”
Title IX and Sexual Misconduct Website: A new Title IX website (titleix.georgetown.edu) was created and launched during the spring 2017 semester. This new website houses the existing sexualassault.georgetown.edu website, Title IX contacts (including pictures of the Title IX Deputy Coordinators), and a new portal to provide anonymous feedback to the Title IX Coordinator. Students and administrators also worked to fully update and streamline the existing sexualassault.georgetown.edu website to be more user and mobile friendly, including a complete reorganization of materials and additional information for students studying abroad.
“How to Get Help” Document: In spring 2017, the Office of Strategic Communications and the Office of Title IX Compliance launched a comprehensive guide to accessing support on and off campus for main campus students. The front side of this document is designed as a tool to help a student navigate the resources available, and the reverse side shares detailed information about all of the resources. This guide also clarifies which roles on campus are confidential, semi-confidential, and non-confidential. The document is a great place to start if a student is unsure what supports are available (or needed) and how to access them.
Title IX Office Hours: As a pilot program during the spring 2017 semester, the Office of Title IX Compliance reached out to six different affiliate offices requesting the opportunity to host office hours in their space or join their students in some other capacity. The goal was to raise awareness of the Office of Title IX Compliance and to allow students to get to know the Title IX Coordinator and Title IX Investigator in a comfortable environment. Office hours were scheduled for Athletics and other outreach events were established at the Women’s Center and the Black House. This project will be expanded into fall 2017.
Title IX Reporting Requirement Update for Campus Ministry: During spring 2017, the Office of Campus Ministry updated their confidentiality and Title IX reporting requirements for all Campus Ministry staff to help ensure that this office is an open place for students who choose to disclose personal information related to sexual misconduct. Clergy (Brahmachari, Father, Iman, Rabbi, or Reverend), acting in their pastoral roles, remain fully confidential. All other Campus Ministry chaplains and staff are now considered semi-confidential (previously responsible employees with a Title IX reporting obligation), meaning they will not report any identifiable information to the Office of Title IX Compliance and thus, students that disclose information will not receive outreach from a Title IX Coordinator. Campus Ministry staff have been trained on how to respond to disclosures and what materials to provide a survivor.
Pro-to-Call: The Office of Title IX Compliance purchased, customized, and, in spring 2017, launched a new data-tracking system called Pro-To-Call. This system will increase efficiency, ease, security, and accuracy for individuals tracking, reporting, and responding to Title IX cases. This is an internal system to be used by all Georgetown Title IX Coordinators; the contract is scheduled to be renewed annually.
General Overview of Addressing Campus Sexual Violence:
In keeping with our commitment to reduce the incidence of sexual assault and misconduct, support survivors, and provide fair and equitable processes and procedures, we have added and strengthened many of our programs, resources, and policies.
Enhanced Training and Education
Bystander Intervention Education: As a result of a partnership between Georgetown University and Georgetown University Student Association, in 2016 a committee was formed that recommended mandatory bystander intervention education for Georgetown students. Subsequent to the review of the Climate Survey results, President DeGioia recommended that undergraduate student leaders be required to receive mandatory bystander intervention education beginning in 2016-2017. As we work toward developing a more survivor-centric campus, Georgetown recognizes the importance of all Hoyas being a part of the solution.
Bystander intervention education works to prevent and combat incidents or possible incidents of sexual violence on campus by teaching individuals how to safely intervene in situations where an incident may be occurring or where there could be risk. This training assists students in defining what a bystander is, identifying inappropriate behaviors or interactions that may call for bystander intervention, and locating resources for others on whose behalf they intervene. The training uses a combination of real life case studies, role plays, and open group discussion that ensure participants feel comfortable and confident in their ability to engage in safe and effective bystander intervention. It teaches students the ABCs of intervention, instructing participants to Assess for safety, Be with others, and Care for Victim. In addition, beyond skills for intervening at a direct level, participants are also able to explore the kinds of behaviors and belief structures that allow sexual violence to stay hidden and survivors to be silenced.
New Student Orientation: Health Education Services produces the new student orientation play, currently entitled Hoya RealTalk, which has been mandatory for first-year students for decades. Each year, the play is rewritten, and for the past two years the sexual assault and misconduct content in the play has been strengthened and enhanced.
I Am Ready: Launched in 2014 and developed with students, the I Am Ready program is a mandatory part of New Student Orientation. This program includes small group peer discussions about issues related to sexual assault and misconduct, including consent and resources, and is conducted by trained student facilitators.
Are You Ready: (formerly R U Ready) celebrated its 13th year in 2016. This well-known Georgetown program involves bringing a speaker to campus to share their story as a survivor, followed by small group discussions (reflecting on content from the speaker, resources, and how to help a friend). This program is led by trained peer facilitators.
Think About It for Undergraduates: Launched in fall 2013, Think About It is a required online training course for undergraduate students that focuses on alcohol, healthy relationships, sexual misconduct, and bystander intervention. This program was developed by a Jesuit university and is now used by over 600 colleges and universities.
Think About It Continuing Education: In March 2015, we began offering undergraduate students a “booster” course to the Think About It online training program. All students who previously participated in the Think About It program were incentivized to take a booster aimed at reinforcing the lessons learned from the original program. Further, in April 2017, in place of the “booster,” all undergraduate students received Think About It for Continuing Students, a module approved by the Bystander Intervention and Education subcommittee, to supplement the knowledge learned during the first year Think About It online training course.
Think About It for Graduate Students: An online training course that covers the topics of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment, specifically in the graduate student context, was launched in March 2016 for all graduate students and professional students on main campus, the Law Center, the School of Continuing Studies, and the School of Medicine.
Respect (for faculty and staff): In addition to ongoing in-person trainings for groups of faculty and staff, in February 2015 we launched a mandatory online training program entitled Respect: Preventing Discrimination, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct. All new faculty and staff are required to take this course.
Enhanced Training for University Investigators and Hearing Boards: The Office of Student Conduct hosts an annual, all-day training for our Title IX team, including our investigators, hearing board members, and Title IX Coordinators. The training focuses both on trauma-informed techniques for investigating and adjudicating sexual misconduct cases, as well as how to conduct an investigation and hearing that is fair and equitable to all parties involved.
Ongoing Awareness Campaigns
Increased Communication: During the fall 2014 semester, President DeGioia sent a letter to the entire University community emphasizing the importance of educating and engaging our community on the issue of sexual assault and misconduct, summarizing the University’s approach, and highlighting the role each member of the University community plays in preventing and responding to sexual misconduct. The Executive Vice Presidents, the head of Human Resources, and Vice President of Institutional Diversity and Equity/then-Title IX Coordinator followed up with letters detailing the specific responsibilities of faculty and staff, and the Vice President for Student Affairs sent a letter to all students detailing resources and encouraging students to actively work to create a climate where sexual assault and misconduct is unacceptable. In addition, as part of the “It’s On Us” campaign, the Athletics Director sent a communication to all student-athletes reminding them of ways in which each member of the community can play a part in creating a safe environment, including information on resources for students.
Healthy Masculinity Campus Conversation: In March 2015, Health Education Services partnered with Men Can Stop Rape and collaborated with students to launch Georgetown’s first healthy masculinity conversation. The event was well attended and geared toward attracting new voices to the conversation and engaging men in meaningful conversation about issues surrounding how we define healthy masculinity and the identities of men as allies and survivors. Since this program, Health Education Services has continued to develop programming around healthy masculinity that highlights the role of men in both prevention and advocacy.
Annual Sexual Assault Forum: Beginning in 2014, and each year since, students have organized a conversation with senior administrators each April to discuss issues related to sexual misconduct. Students ask questions related to training and education, the adjudication process, and resources. The dialogue is geared toward offering transparency and clarity. In 2017, the conversation centered around the recommendations set forth by the Sexual Assault and Misconduct Task Force.
Peer Educators: Health Education Services oversees the Sexual Assault Peer Educators. The Sexual Assault Peer Educators seek to address and respond to the issue of sexual assault and misconduct on Georgetown’s campus. Through peer-facilitated discussion, outreach, and education, the Sexual Assault Peer Educators create a shared responsibility to be active bystanders and challenge rape culture through creating a survivor centric environment. Since its inception, the Sexual Assault Peer Educators have continued to grow and have become well known on campus. They offer four curriculum areas: Sexual Assault 101, Consent, Healthy Relationships, and Bystander Intervention. Additionally, some of the Sexual Assault Peer Educators are trained to facilitate the One Love Foundation video-based workshop on relationship violence. The Sexual Assault Peer Educators facilitate dialogues for student organizations, academic classes, social groups, and athletic teams. The Sexual Assault Peer Educators have specific liaisons for The Corp and the Athletics department in order to tailor trainings to meet the needs of these communities.
Take Back the Night: During Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April), Take Back the Night, a student group, hosts a series of events in collaboration with campus partners to raise awareness around sexual assault and misconduct by encouraging dialogue, tabling to promote resources, and hosting educational programming. Campus partners have included: Health Education Services, Sexual Assault Peer Educators, The Women’s Center, LGBTQ Resource Center, Yates, and the Lecture Fund.
Comprehensive Website: We have developed a comprehensive web presence on sexual assault and misconduct, by creating sexualassault.georgetown.edu, which serves as a one-stop shop for information on policies, resources, how to report, and how to seek help. Administrators regularly work with students to enhance the website to be user-friendly, accessible, and reflective of best practices in sharing important information.
Sexual Assault Response Team: In 2015, the Georgetown University Police Department established a Sexual Assault Response Team which is now staffed with more than a dozen officers who are specially trained to handle cases of sexual assault and misconduct in a caring and supportive manner. These officers undergo more than forty hours of specialized training, including presentations from on campus resources, the District of Columbia Forensic Nurse Examiners program, representatives from the Network for Victim Recovery District of Columbia, and Metropolitan Police Department sexual assault officers.
Resource Awareness: In spring 2016, Health Education Services developed sexual assault resource stickers that were placed in bathrooms throughout campus that identified resources for students. Also, emergency contact information for campus and community resources (such as Counseling and Psychiatric Services and crisis hotlines) were added to the backs of student GoGards. Additionally, Health Education Serviced developed a mini-brochure on resources to assist anyone impacted by sexual assault with both on campus and off campus resources.
Sexual Assault and Misconduct Climate Survey: Consistent with Department of Education guidance and the White House’s “Not Alone” campaign, in the spring of 2016 Georgetown conducted its first campus climate survey on the prevalence of sexual assault and misconduct as well as student perceptions and attitudes on the issue. After a successful marketing campaign, the survey garnered a 51% response rate, one of the highest participation rates in the country. The survey results, released in June 2016, continue to be used to help inform our policies and practices for preventing and responding to sexual assault and misconduct within the Georgetown community.
Sexual Assault and Misconduct Task Force: In June 2016, President DeGioia created the Sexual Assault and Misconduct Task Force, a group of more than seventy students, staff, and faculty responsible for looking deeper into the results of the Climate Survey. The Task Force met for the 2016-2017 academic year and was charged with helping the University understand why sexual assault and misconduct occurs on our campus, what further commitments the University can make to address this problem, and how the institution can increase reporting, knowledge of resources, and trust in our policies and procedures. The Task Force has recommended short and long-term approaches and action steps to aid in the response and prevention of sexual misconduct on campus.
Policies and Procedures
New Policy: In February 2014, we announced a new campus-wide policy on sexual misconduct, incorporating new legal requirements and national best practices.
Changes in Student Conduct Process: We frequently review our conduct and adjudicating policies related to sexual misconduct and update them as necessary to assure a fair, streamlined, efficient, and transparent process for all parties involved. In fall 2014, we began using an expert investigator to investigate complaints of sexual misconduct and compile investigatory reports for use by hearing panels in sexual misconduct cases. In addition, we began using closed circuit video technology during sexual misconduct hearings so that complainants and respondents can hear and see one another, but do not need to be in the same room at the same time. In spring 2016 and per the request of student leaders, the Office of Student Conduct added interpretive guidance to the definition of “relationship violence” in order to further clarify the types of abuse covered by the code.
Help for Students Navigating University Processes: Georgetown has many trained staff members available to help students navigate the University’s sexual misconduct processes. In addition to the University’s Title IX Coordinator and Deputy Coordinators, individuals available to provide information and assistance to all parties involved in sexual misconduct cases, complainants in these cases can also seek assistance from confidential counselors in Health Education Services, and respondents (those accused of sexual misconduct) can be paired with “Process Navigators,” staff members trained to provide respondents with clear information and support on how the student conduct process works.
Added Resources and Staffing
Full-Time Title IX Coordinator: Georgetown’s Vice President for Institutional Diversity & Equity has long served as the University’s Title IX Coordinator. In January 2016, Georgetown hired the University’s first dedicated full-time Title IX Coordinator to coordinate Georgetown’s prevention, educational, and response efforts, and to oversee compliance with Title IX and the Violence Against Women Act.
Interpersonal Violence Training and Education Specialist: As a result of the Climate Survey data, during the fall 2016 semester, an Interpersonal Violence Training and Education Specialist was added to the staff of Health Education Services. This staff person provides training and education on topics related to interpersonal violence, such as, bystander intervention, relationship violence, and stalking.
Additional Staff Clinician: In fall 2014, a new additional full-time confidential staff clinician and sexual assault specialist was added to Health Education Services. The staff person provides confidential counseling and crisis services to survivors of sexual assault and misconduct and develops and engages in educational programs with students.
Title IX Investigator: In fall 2015, Georgetown hired a full-time Title IX investigator to ensure the prompt and equitable investigation of sexual misconduct cases.
Deputy Title IX Coordinators: Georgetown appointed Deputy Title IX Coordinators on each campus to serve as helpful resources for students, to coordinate training, and to oversee a prompt and effective response to incidents as they arise.
Counseling and Psychiatric Services: Beginning in April 2016, Counseling and Psychiatric Services now offers a semester’s worth of free appointments to all survivors of sexual assault and misconduct and to those accused of sexual assault and misconduct. Further, Counseling and Psychiatric Services has established a multi-year plan to hire new clinicians, both on main campus and at the Law Center. This increase in clinicians will aid in decreasing the wait time for an appointment, a benefit for all Georgetown students including those impacted by sexual assault.