Letter from the Title IX Student Committee to the Georgetown Community

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Dear Georgetown community,

 

Recently, a number of posters have been placed in the Red Square in order to raise awareness about the issue of sexual harassment and assault in Georgetown Qatar. The campaign aimed to educate students on Title IX laws, challenge the administration’s implementation of it, and propose precautionary measures that would protect students from sexual assault. The posters also aimed to highlight the shortcomings and propose changes to our Title IX law, which should protect victims of assaults and harassment but does not do so efficiently.

Prior to going public with this issue, a group of students noticed the pattern shortcomings within Title IX regulations and took the initiative to ensure that there are ongoing dialogues and actions to be taken. The students approached several faculty members in order to express these concerns and to collaborate in coming up with suggestions to remedy these shortcomings.

This group then approached the Title IX coordinator, Qatar Foundation, main campus, as well as the Dean to express their concerns. However, despite bringing up the issues multiple times with the administration, we received no adequate responses, which urged the group to take to social media as an option of last resort. The formation of this group came about organically and was not a planned effort. Therefore, while all the prior actions have been taken by a limited number of students, we now open the floor to other students to contribute and to take actions.

After the display of public disappointment in Georgetown’s handling of past sexual assault cases, the group of students and faculty has recently managed to grab the administration’s attention and sat down for a meeting to discuss ways to improve Title IX implementation. The meeting consisted of six student representatives, one faculty member, an Academic Dean, and the Title IX coordinator. The meeting agenda included a discussion of ways to make Title IX process more efficient, provision of a more accommodating and considerate process for victims, and ensuring the protection of students in the future. This group has since come up with a charter of demands aimed at improving the Title IX policy.

 

The charter of demands proposes the following:

 

  1. Mandatory Title IX training for faculty and staff. The training should recur every Semester.
  2. A clear set of practices for faculty-student interactions
    1. Strictly reinforce an open-door policy for student meetings with professors. (Suggestion: install transparent doors or windows in faculty offices)
    2. Meetings after 5pm must take place in a public space, such as the atrium.
  3. A time limit must be set for investigations of Title IX violations.
  4. We recommend that investigations take no longer than a 3 month period. Harvard University reduced its average length of investigations from 4.4 months to 3.8 months, and they have had an increased number of complaints by 65%.
    1. All investigations should begin no later than one week after the allegation.
  5. With regard to the statements made by both the accuser and accused:
    1. Survivors should not be forced to relive their trauma. Telling their story once should suffice.
    2. There should be a transcription of the first account told by the survivor to avoid the need for repetition in the future
    3. Survivors should be informed of the perpetrators’ statements.
  6. GUQ students should not have to abide by the new Title IX changes. Georgetown should have a moral responsibility to uphold the highest standard of protection to the survivors.
  7. Include Title IX policies in all syllabi.
  8. Create a working group to study the most effective sexual harassment and prevention policies.
    1. The working group should include staff, students, and faculty.
    2. The student body should have a say on who represents them in this group.
    3. Student representatives must be chosen through an application process.
    4. The agendas of the meetings should be made public.
    5. The groups’ responsibilities include researching best practices, holding the institution accountable, and act as intermediaries.
  9. Create a program of sexual assault peer educators who are trained on sexual assault laws in the country as well as Title IX procedures. They should sign a confidentiality agreement. Their responsibilities include:
    1. Acting as initial contact persons for survivors who wish to file a Title IX complaint
    2. A resource for students to learn about the procedure of Title IX
    3. Confidants who can act as intermediaries for victims who wish to protect their identity

 

The aim of this article is to provide transparency to the Georgetown student body on what has happened and the current steps underway to ensure that action is being taken. We invite you to attend the upcoming Town Hall in order to discuss these demands and encourage any amendments that you may have for this charter.

We will discuss the charter in detail at Town Hall, and we hope that you will join us in contributing suggestions during the meeting as well. The Town Hall will be from 11:30 to 12:30 on Thursday, April 25 at 0A11.

The charter of demands provides serious and practical changes not only to the Title IX process but also to the promotion of an environment where students can interact with faculties and each other in a safe and secure manner. Moreover, while we encourage students to speak up on this issue, we strongly recommend that we stay focused on amending the process, rather than prying into people’s personal experiences.

As previously stated, critiques of the charter, as well as substantial suggestions, are welcomed, because this process involves all of the student body. By coming together to discuss sexual assault, we are able to create a dialogue that will hopefully bring us one step closer to ensuring that victims of sexual assault are receiving the protection and justice they deserve from this institution.

 

Sincerely,

The Title IX Student Committee