In the past year, the University has worked with a number of student organizations to educate incoming students about the prevalence of sexual assault on campus. AlcoholEdu has been replaced with an alternative online workshop that includes sexual assault education. New Student Orientation has included voluntary discussions of the issue, in addition to requiring RAs to address University sexual assault policy and disclose available resources to their residents at the beginning of the academic term.
While these measures are steps in the right direction, sexual assault has gone unaddressed for too long at Georgetown, and NSO as it stands leaves much to be desired. Of the plethora of scheduled offerings for this year’s freshmen, not one deals exclusively with sexual assault education. The Georgetown University Student Association set the right precedent when it implemented mandatory sexual assault peer educator training for all student government officials last spring. This zeal must continue so that next year’s NSO will include more involved and engaging programming that addresses the issue of sexual assault.
Most students have heard the famous statistic one in four women will be subjected to sexual assault or attempted sexual assault. Incidents are most common on university campuses during the period between the start of the fall semester and Thanksgiving, known as the “Red Zone.”
However, sexual assault exists far beyond the Red Zone, and the end of freshman year does not afford students a higher level of safety or awareness about the risk of encountering sexual assault on campus.
The University should expend effort on the introductory education of not only freshmen, but also on the continuing education of upperclassmen.
When new resources become available to students or when the University changes its policy in a way that could impact victims of sexual assault, that information should immediately be made clear and accessible to students. Campus resources such as the Student Health Center, the Women’s Center, and the Office of Residential Living can play a valuable role in the dispersal of information to students by continuing and expanding their efforts to reach out to students.
Sexual assault cannot be eradicated from college campuses with a long weekend of voluntary workshops. In order to address the issue effectively, the Georgetown community must actively engage and communicate with students throughout their time here.