Monday, April 5, 2010
As Dr. Olson's letter from last Friday showed, the administration is taking steps to review and improve its policies concerning care for survivors of sexual assault. Plan A has also been promised a space in the upcoming meeting to discuss these changes. We are very happy to be involved and to see that changes are being made, and we hope to see similar changes in the coming weeks regarding the other issues we have brought forward.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Here are some updates about what's been going on with the Plan A Campaign!
Yesterday, we hosted a theater event in Red Square to draw the Georgetown community's attention to the fact that, while over a month has passed since Plan A sent our first letter of concern to President DeGioia with regard to the way Georgetown approaches reproductive justice and sexual health, we have yet to receive any correspondence directly from him. We got a vague and essentially un-responsive letter from Todd Olson after we delivered our first letter on February 5, and President DeGioia has not yet scheduled a meeting with us. His failure to address reproductive justice in a genuine way is quite clearly a continuation of Georgetown's general protocol of ignoring and neglecting sexual health issues, but it is still disappointing to see such a blatant lack of engagement on President DeGioia's part when our attempts to open a dialogue have been so direct.
To show him that we have not forgotten about our request, several students from Plan A gathered in Red Square to raise awareness about the campaign, to let people know that the university has not responded to our questions and concerns, and to send yet another message to President DeGioia that, although he refuses to respond to us, we are continuing to gather support and move forward.
Our skit had a St. Patrick's Day theme, and its goal was to highlight the ways that Georgetown's policies around sexual health are negatively impacting the lives of students on campus. We delivered a pot of condoms to the president with a message that said, "Doesn't it seem backwards that students are providing their president with sexual health resources? Student health shouldn't be left to luck." We had a great turnout, and were able to elicit a lot of interest from students and other passers-by!
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Leprechaun Jack O'Gioia will be there with the ever elusive pot of condoms. After the skit we'll be delivering a note to Jack DeGioia reminding him that we are STILL WAITING for a response to our letter.
If you can't make it to the skit, write a note to DeGioia letting him know that you want a response to our letter. You can email his
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
2-Hear personal stories from students whose lives have been negatively affected by Georgetown's policies.
3-Sign the petition!
4- Join us in delivering a letter to President DeGioia.
Come for just 15 minutes between classes or stay for the whole time.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
The first woman who answered the phone told me that I could not get a rape kit at the Georgetown Hospital. When I explained the urgency of my friend’s situation, she suggested that I try the George Washington Hospital. After I insisted on speaking with someone else who could give me more information, I was put on hold for well over five minutes. I was astounded that I was forced to wait for that length of time right after I had explained that my friend had been raped and was seeking emergency response. When another woman came on the line, she told me that my friend would have to go to the Washington Hospital Center in order to have access to a rape kit. She did not tell me what Georgetown Hospital could do for my friend until I explicitly asked her what resources Georgetown Hospital had for rape survivors. She explained that a survivor could be medically screened but that it would not include a rape kit. This is common procedure for most university hospitals in the District of Columbia, as the Washington Hospital Center serves as the only place where rape kits are administered. However, when I told the woman that my friend needed help getting to the Washington Hospital Center (map shown below), she casually suggested that we take a taxi.
View Larger Map
This suggestion revealed what Plan A finds most problematic about Georgetown University Hospital’s services for rape survivors. Plan A is pointing out not only that the university does not carry rape kits, but also that it provides no services for its students to access them elsewhere. It is unconscionable to expect rape survivors to get into a taxi and ride over to an unfamiliar hospital alone. Not only does this require the student to incur the expenses of transportation to an alternate location, but it also obliges a traumatized rape survivor to put themselves into an unsafe environment without any support from the university. I expressed these concerns to the woman from the hospital and asked if there were any other options. She explained that my friend could be transported to the Washington Hospital Center by MedStar (the company that owns Georgetown Hospital). This, once again, places tremendous financial burden on rape survivors and unquestionably will discourage many survivors from accessing essential resources like rape kits and comprehensive post-trauma care.
In order to lift these burdens from access to critical health services, the Georgetown administration must advocate on behalf of its students. It must provide free transportation to and from the Washington Hospital Center in order to facilitate safe and uninhibited access to rape kits. Anything less is an affront to the health and safety of rape survivors. Plan A also believes that the University should actively distribute information about steps to accessing services for sexual assault and rape survivors. It is the University’s responsibility to ensure that this information is made public, explicit and well-circulated.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
First of all, our response came not from President DeGioia, the person to whom we addressed the letter, but from Todd Olson. Additionally, the response contradicts itself a number of times, and parts of what he says are simply not true. For example, he writes, "I recognize that these are complex questions and that there are divergent points of view on the issues that you raise; that is why our policies and practices encourage debate and conversation." Unfortunately, the fact that Georgetown does not recognize a pro-choice perspective on campus actively discourages and prohibits debate and conversation. Keeping groups like H*yas for Choice from access to benefits and from having space anywhere except red square is an active move on the part of the university to keep its students in the dark on issues of reproductive justice and choice.
He goes on to write, "Nonetheless, as a Catholic and Jesuit university our policies must reflect our identity and our values." Again, as we laid out in our letter, denying students access to resources to allow them to lead healthy lives and censoring dialogue are not Jesuit values.
Part of his response also addressed rape kits specifically. He wrote "Because [Washington Hospital Center] is the only site in the city authorized to provide such assistance, Georgetown, like other universities in the District, refers patients to the Hospital Center for treatment. " He in no way responds to the question about how students who have been sexually assaulted get to the Hospital Center, which is crucial. The issue here is not only that survivors seem to have to deal with the logistical issues of navigating DC to get to a place that can offer support, but also that Georgetown does not make this information available and easily accessible to its students.
Finally, Dr. Olson says that “Georgetown University is committed to the free exchange of ideas. Through its Speech and Expression policy, the University provides students the opportunity to participate in dialogue on a wide range of issues." Then, however, he goes on to write, "As a Catholic and Jesuit institution, however, Georgetown cannot support organizations whose stated purpose conflicts with Catholic moral teaching. For that reason, H*yas for Choice, a group whose constitution espouses 'advocating for reproductive choice' is not eligible for access to university benefits.” If Georgetown University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, then all student groups should have the right to engage in open, uncensored dialogue and discussion around all issues, including reproductive justice and abortion. If the exchange of ideas is limited to ideas that are anti-choice, that exchange is not free. By funding GU Right to Life and hosting pro-life conferences on campus, the University is explicitly upholding certain ideas while silencing others. This does not show a commitment to a free exchange of ideas, but rather a commitment to silencing an entire community’s concerns about health and wellness on our campus.
February 24, 2010
Dear Student Leaders of United Feminists and H*yas for Choice,
President DeGioia has asked me to respond to your letter of February 5, 2010. In your letter, you raise questions about the University’s Speech and Expression policy and specifically about the Access to Benefits policy. Georgetown University is committed to the free exchange of ideas. Through its Speech and Expression policy, the University provides students the opportunity to participate in dialogue on a wide range of issues. As a Catholic and Jesuit institution, however, Georgetown cannot support organizations whose stated purpose conflicts with Catholic moral teaching. For that reason, H*yas for Choice, a group whose constitution espouses “advocating for reproductive choice” is not eligible for access to university benefits.
In response to your question about services for victims of sexual assault, District of Columbia residents have access to the services of a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) at the Washington Hospital Center. Because this is the only site in the city authorized to provide such assistance, Georgetown, like other universities in the District, refers patients to the Hospital Center for treatment. Finally, with regard to the availability of the HPV vaccine, students can obtain a prescription for the vaccine at Student Health Services and the prescription can be filled at the hospital’s out patient pharmacy, located across the street from the Student Health Center.
Georgetown’s policies and practices rest on the strong underpinning of Catholic social and moral teaching and its affirmation of the dignity of all persons from the beginning of life to its natural end. I recognize that these are complex questions and that there are divergent points of view on the issues that you raise; that is why our policies and practices encourage debate and conversation. Nonetheless, as a Catholic and Jesuit university our policies must reflect our identity and our values. I hope that this has been helpful to you and always welcome your questions.
Todd A. Olson, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs
Monday, February 22, 2010
We will post regularly to this blog with updates on the campaign, so be sure to check back! For a more comprehensive outline of our demands, take a look at the Open Letter of Demands to President DeGioia, which we have linked at the top of the page.
Thanks for stopping by!