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Student group, student paper rip Georgetown U. officials for ‘failing’ black women, non-binary folk

A Friday editorial in the Georgetown University student paper The Hoya rips campus officials for “failing” black women and non-binary survivors of sexual assault.

The editors make that claim based on the Black Survivors Coalition’s now-six-day-long occupation of Healy Hall, which began after administrators failed to respond to the group’s “non-negotiable” demands deadline of January 31. The BSC initially had delivered a (demand) letter to the office Georgetown President John DeGioia on January 27.

The BSC’s demands include:

* The hiring of more Black clinicians to “better serve Black survivors.”

* The “bolstering” of the Women’s Center’s capacity for supporting survivors. This includes a permanent “Gender-Based Violence specialist” position, and the elimination of the PhD requirement for hiring at the Center.

* “Comprehensive mandatory Diversity, Bias, and Bystander training for ALL Deans, Faculty, Coaches, and Student Affairs staff.”

* Establishment of a Women’s and Gender Studies Department. This includes a mandatory course about “sexual assault prevention, consent in platonic and sexual relationships […] and the nuances of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation in sexual assault prevention.”

* Establishment of a “24/7 crisis response center” which includes staff available 24 hours a day, seven days a week “paid time-and-a-half.”

* The hiring of a “culturally competent Black trauma specialist,” the hiring of “Black staff members to work in the Title IX Office and Office of Student Conduct,” and “cultural competency and implicit bias training” for university police.

* Establishment of an endowment for the “Off-Campus Mental Health Stipend.”

The BSC says the Healy sit-in is “necessary to force the university to take meaningful action.” The Hoya’s editors contend the group’s demands “are not unreasonable; they are necessary.”

From the editorial:

Though the university sent a schoolwide email Feb. 26 with its responses to student demands, the the university’s responses were woefully inadequate. In response to the demand to establish a 24/7 crisis response center, the university merely pointed to existing resources. Yet students are protesting precisely because these existing resources are inadequate.

By implying that the university was committing to sufficiently address every demand, the email was misleading for students who have not been at the sit-in. …

Nothing can excuse the university’s failure to respond directly to BSC. Georgetown’s assumption that reaching out to other Black student organizations was equivalent to directly responding to BSC indicates the university treats Black student groups as interchangeable. This lack of respect for student organizers who are working on the #GeorgetownDoesntCare campaign is simply unacceptable.

Student activist Nile Blass is quoted as saying “We didn’t get shit” from the university prior to the Healy occupation.

Despite the race-exclusive nature of the BSC demands, Blass and the Hoya editors blast the university for sending black female employees to discussion meetings: “Tokenizing,” the editors write, while Blass says “All these Black women who didn’t have shit to do with shit.”

MORE: Georgetown libraries remove dozens of novels that offend some students

MORE: Georgetown launches yet another diversity program

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 15 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.

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