After a March 27 protest during the first Georgetown Admissions Ambassador Program weekend, in which three members from Plan A Hoyas for Reproductive Justice chained themselves to the John Carroll statue in Healy Lawn, university administrators agreed to meet with representatives from the group.
Plan A leader and United Feminists board member Marion Cory (COL ‘10) said the administrators at the March 30 meeting included Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson, but would not confirm whether President John DeGioia was also in attendance.
Cory said that as a result of the meeting, the University is now providing free and uninhibited access to Washington Medical Center for students who wish to obtain rape kits.
“That was an exciting victory for Plan A,” Cory said.
However, Olson had addressed that issue in a letter he sent to Plan A the day before the group’s March 27 protest.
“Students seeking medical care following a sexual assault should proceed to Washington Hospital Center by taxi,” Olson wrote. “Costs of transportation will be fully covered by Health Education Services. If a student wishes to go to Washington Hospital Center by GERMS ambulance instead of by taxi, GERMS is authorized to confidentially transport students free of charge in an ambulance (non-lights and siren mode).”
Cory also claimed another of Olson’s concrete points in the March 26 letter—that university administrators are meeting with staff from Georgetown University Hospital and D.C. Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program to help improve this process—was actually a victory achieved at the March 30 meeting.
Plan A’s campaign has earned the support from some Georgetown student groups, including the Movimiento Estudantil Chicano de Aztlán and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which were both present at the protest in Healy Circle.
Frances Davila (SFS ’10), co-chair of MEChA, said that her organization has historically stood up against all forms of discrimination. On the issue of reproductive justice, she said Plan A’s campaign is well in line with MEChA’s greater philosophy.
Jheanelle Brown (SFS ‘10), NAACP President, said that Plan A’s campaign is especially relevant in the District of Columbia, where HIV/AIDS rates are the highest in the nation.
College Democrats, the largest student group on campus, also offered its tentative support for the campaign’s demands, but objected to its tactics.
“While we recognize the diversity of opinions on this matter, we do support the goals of the Plan A campaign to bring issues of sexual health to the consciousness of the Georgetown community and to promote a free exchange of ideas on campus,” College Democrats President Bryan Woll (COL ’12) wrote in an e-mail.
Woll said, though, that it was unfortunate the administration and Plan A have been unable to dialogue in a productive and respectful manner, adding that the intense reactions on both sides of the issue have served to increase the ideological divide.
Conservative student groups, such as Georgetown’s Right to Life, remain skeptical of Plan A’s demands.
Georgetown Right to Life President Gabriella Hook said that she felt many of Plan A’s demands are unnecessary because some of those services are already provided on campus, citing adequate sex education at the Health Education Center for example.
“In a really big way, I feel that Plan A is self-destructive,” Hook said. “Just because listening to people talk on campus—it seems like people that are supportive of their message are disappointed by the way they’re implementing their campaign. I think, pretty significantly, the goals they’re asking for are false.”
Hook said that Plan A’s call for access to condoms on campus is simply incompatible with Georgetown’s Catholic identity.
“As far as contraceptives on campus, we’re a Catholic university, so we can’t,” Hook said.
Administrators have indicated that the University takes its Catholic identity very seriously, and still considers many of the tenets of the Plan A campaign contrary to the University’s values.
“As a Catholic and Jesuit university, our core values of respect for all human life are not negotiable,” Georgetown Office of Communications Director of Media Relations Andy Pino wrote in an e-mail.
Nonetheless, Cory indicated that the university didn’t deem any issue off-limits.
“I certainly don’t think they communicated anything to us in terms of what concretely will not be able to happen, but rather I would say it was very productive in terms of what can happen,” Cory said.
Olson could not be reached for comment.
Despite the protestors’ apparent breach of university free speech policy by holding their action in Healy Circle instead of Red Square, Cory said that potential disciplinary action was not an issue raised in the meeting.
In addition to the first meeting that occurred last Tuesday, another meeting between administrators and Plan A will be held sometime early next week, according to Cory.
“Student Affairs plans to continue engaging these and other students in an open and respectful conversation about their questions and concerns,” Pino wrote.
Cory said that she was unsure of the exact day of the next meeting, but that she expects it to be “similar to the last meeting, intense and full of difficult questions and challenges to the university.”