H*yas for Choice is requesting a public apology and extra training on the University’s Speech and Expression Policy for Georgetown University Police Department (GUPD) after officers removed condom envelopes from the doors of student representatives on Wednesday.
According to GUPD Chief Jay Gruber, officers responded to a resident assistant’s report of suspicious behavior on one floor of Village C West and found that some rooms appeared to have been vandalized. “This included envelopes on the doors of two rooms that had explicit images and comments written on them,” wrote Gruber in an email to the Voice.
H*yas for Choice condom representatives hang envelopes filled with condoms on their doors for students to take anonymously. The organization also provides free condoms at their table in Red Square, since no condoms are provided or sold in stores on campus.
Namratha Sivakumar (SFS ‘20) was one of the condom representatives whose envelope was removed. According to Sivakumar, the condom envelope taken off the door across from her room included a drawing of a penis. “They were under the impression it was harassment,” Sivakumar said.
Now the condom envelope is now back on Sivakumar’s door. “I’m not really interested in pursuing this further because I think it was just a prank that was taken the wrong way. I don’t think GUPD meant to infringe on anyone’s rights,” Sivakumar said.
Under the University’s Free Speech and Expression Policy students may post flyers or material expressing their own views on the doors of dorms or apartments, according to the Division of Student Affairs website.
Co-president of H*yas for Choice Emily Stephens (SFS ‘17) and Director of Organizing and Events Kory Stuer (COL ‘19) believe GUPD’s removal of condom envelopes fits into a larger trend of university representatives infringing on students’ speech. According to Stephens, H*yas for Choice condom representatives have had condoms removed by resident assistants, community directors, and chaplains in the past. “As somebody who had to verbally fight off at GUPD at one point last year at 2am because they tried to take a condom envelope off of my door, I’m extremely frustrated and upset,” Stuer said.
In the fall of 2014, GUPD prevented H*yas for Choice from tabling outside the University’s front gates. After the incident Gruber issued an apology admitting that officers had acted incorrectly.
This week H*yas for Choice reached out to Gruber and asked for an apology for the condom representatives involved and the organization as a whole. They also requested additional training on the University’s speech and expression policy. “Clearly even though they claim their officers are well-trained, it keeps happening,” Stuer said.
Gruber has offered to meet with H*yas for Choice. “GUPD officers are well trained in the Speech and Expression Policy, “ wrote Gruber. GUPD does not have a policy regarding the removal of material from students’ doors and has not removed condom envelopes in the past, according to Gruber.
Stephens is concerned about the removal of the condom envelopes because it is the organization’s only anonymous method of distributing condoms to students. “The fact that our condom envelope service is in jeopardy is kind of an existential crisis for the club,” Stephens said.