Georgetown University Mandates Sexual Misconduct Education

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An expanded, multi-course classroom and online education program on sexual misconduct and relationships will soon be a requirement for all undergraduates, graduates, faculty and staff at Georgetown University, according to the university’s Sexual Assault and Misconduct Task Force report, released Sept. 15.

The mandatory courses will include intensive bystander-intervention training for both undergraduates and graduate students, eventually including all campus employees. “First-year students will be the first to go through the mandatory training,” announced Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson. Olson called “Bringing in the Bystander,” the intensive new program, “the heart of what’s new and all first-year students are going through.”

“It is very important for the faculty and staff to be well-versed and be well-trained in what resources and what their reporting obligations are in the event that a student decides to take them into their confidence,” Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity Rosemary Kilkenny said, campus newspaper the Hoya reported.

The university will also examine the possible connections between “power differentials” in exclusive club cultures at Georgetown University, according to Laura Cutway, the university’s full-time Title IX Coordinator. “This includes the ‘partying’ culture and alcohol consumption that facilitates sexual assault.”

Public awareness campaigns and additional staffing of Health Education Services will also be part of the program.

The new mandates were released a week after U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced, on Sept. 7, the end of the Obama administration’s guidelines, which had broadened the definition of sexual assault on U.S. campuses to include perceived sexual harassment. The guidelines also broadened the punitive powers of campus administrators at sexual-assault hearings.

Secretary DeVos indicated in her order that she was “deeply concerned about addressing the views of the accused, whose stories are not often shared.”

“Regardless of what the Department of Education does, we want to let it be known that the university is very committed to eradicating sexual misconduct, sexual assault and sexual harassment,” Kilkenny said.

Under the new program, campus police officers should also receive additional training, Cutway said, according to the Hoya. “Sexual Assault Response Team officers will receive more intensive training, while all other university officers will receive a baseline training in handling instances of sexual violence.”

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