Black Survivors Coalition demands improved sexual assault resources

February 2, 2020

Content warning: This article discusses sexual assault 

Georgetown’s Black Survivors Coalition delivered a letter, titled #GeorgetownDoesntCare, to university President John DeGioia’s office on Jan. 27 with a list of demands to improve Georgetown’s resources for black survivors of sexual assault. The coalition’s first demand was the administration’s public response to the letter by Friday, Jan. 31. 

The letter demanded that the administration hire more black mental health clinicians and healthcare professionals to serve survivors, establish a Women’s and Gender Studies Department, and require mandatory diversity, bias, and bystander training for all Georgetown faculty, deans, coaches, and Student Affairs staff. The coalition requested that Georgetown expand crisis resources on campus, including a 24-hour crisis response center and trauma-trained SafeWalk and SafeRide workers.

The coalition also demanded that the university add a sexual assault prevention course, such as the new Title IX for a New Generation class, to the core curriculum. 

In response to an inquiry from the Voice, a university spokesperson responded with a statement. “We have received the request from the students and take their concerns seriously. The issues and suggestions raised are important and require further discussion and serious consideration. We will be reaching out to students very soon to open up this conversation,” the statement read.

The Black Survivors Coalition used the findings of the 2016 and 2019 Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Misconduct to advocate for better resources for black survivors. While bystander training attendance has more than doubled since 2016, rates of reported sexual harassment among undergraduates have remained around 31 percent. 

“This university has shown for years that #GeorgetownDoesntCare about Black women survivors,” the letter stated. “Given the university’s hesitance in addressing this issue, we must be proactive and vocal ourselves to get the resources that survivors need.”

The coalition’s letter also criticized the administration for leaving key positions within sexual assault resources, such as the Title IX investigator, unfilled for over a year. 

In the university response, the spokesperson wrote that Georgetown recognized that race, gender, sexuality, and class impact the experience of all students on campus, and listed examples of past and present university efforts to prevent sexual assault on campus. According to the statement, the administration is working to improve the cultural competence of the Counseling and Psychiatric Service and increase funding for off-campus mental health services. 

The response cited the recent hiring of Olabisi Ladeji Okubadejo as associate vice president for affirmative action, equal opportunity, and compliance. The statement also referenced the hiring of Dr. Amena Johnson to the LGBTQ Resource Center and Annie Selak to the Georgetown Women’s Center. A new Title IX and Civil Rights Investigator, who has yet to be named, will begin working at Georgetown in February. 

While the coalition has not yet responded publicly to the university statement, they argued in their letter that these changes are not enough to support black survivors. “University officials working at their own bureaucratic pace has not sufficed for students that need urgent support, nor has it helped mitigate the issues that we are struggling with today,” the Black Survivors Coalition letter read.

Sarah Watson
Sarah is the former Spring 2022 Editor-in-Chief and a senior in the SFS studying Regional and Comparative Studies. She is a national park enthusiast and really just wants to talk about mountains.


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