The GUSA senate unanimously passed a resolution to support Students Taking Action against Interpersonal Violence (STAIV) in advocating for survivors of sexual assault at their Nov. 18 meeting.
The resolution was created as a response to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos’s proposed changes to Title IX policy. The resolution calls on University President John DeGioia to explain what Title IX policies would change at Georgetown as a response to the proposed changes, as well as host a town hall so students can learn how they may directly be affected. It also asks DeGioia to denounce the proposed policy changes, and to urge other institutions, especially those that are Catholic and Jesuit, to do the same.
The resolution is based on a letter STAIV and other student groups delivered to the Office of the President on Nov. 16. As of Nov. 20, the letter had received 297 student signatures.
The proposed Title IX changes include redefining the application of the term sexual assault to be considered in only the most serious cases, such as repeated assaults. The changes would also prevent universities from holding students responsible for off campus assaults, and remove time requirements for resolutions in sexual assault cases. Universities would also be able to raise the burden of proof in Title IX cases.
The university has responded to the Department of Education’s previous changes under DeVos, including rescinding the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter and the 2014 Guiding Principles, by releasing a statement affirming the university’s, “longstanding commitment to eradicating all forms of sexual misconduct.” The university has not implemented any proposed changes.
The resolution was introduced by GUSA Senate Speaker Eliza Lafferty (COL ’21) and Senator Julio Salmeron-Perla (SFS ’22). Jade Ferguson (SFS ’22) and Nile Blass (SFS ’22) from STAIV helped introduce the resolution. All four cited the university’s high statistics on sexual assault as reason to ensure Title IX protections are not rolled back. Thirty one percent of female undergraduates and ten percent of male undergraduates on the campus have experienced sexual assault.
No senators spoke in opposition to the resolution.
The resolution was delivered to the president’s office Nov. 19 by members of GUSA and STAIV.
In other business, the Senate confirmed the executive appointment of Jennifer Martinez Sanchez (COL ’22) to the Undocumented Students Affairs Policy Committee.
The GUSA senate will convene again after Thanksgiving, on Nov. 26 at 8 p.m. in White Gravenor 206.