Wednesday, February 24, 2010

University Response

Wednesday morning, Vice President of Student Affairs, Todd Olson, sent United Feminists and H*yas for Choice a letter in response to the letter we sent to President DeGioia. I'll post the entire letter below, but the general gist of it is that Georgetown has no intention of changing anything about the way that it approaches reproductive justice after reading what we wrote. While this response is not surprising, per se, it was disappointing to see the way that he completely avoided actually addressing any of the arguments we presented.

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.



The only thing this letter actually makes clear is the fact that the university is refusing to engage in a genuine way with our concerns.

To let Georgetown know that this response is unacceptable, sign our petition! Look for us tabling today in Leavey and next week either in Red Square or the Leavey lobby!


Letter from Todd Olson

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.

Sincerely,


Todd A. Olson, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs
Georgetown University

3 comments:

  1. Why does the university feel the need to adhere to its catholic values and identity on reproductive issues, but it can eschew with its Jesuit values upholding the free exchange of ideas?

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  2. These students don't seem to understand what it means to be Catholic. They are free to choose to be something else, but supporters of abortion are not Catholic and should not prevail on a Catholic institution to support them. They have no logical argument. Do they even teach logic at Georgetown?

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  3. شركة بسمة الرياض وكعادتها معكم تتشرف بتقديم خدمات غسيل المجالس بطريقة علمية ومجربة لضمان الحفاظ على الاقمشة والانسجة فاذا كنت تبحث عن يحافظون على مجلسك فنحن نضمن لك مع شركة غسيل مجالس بالرياض أفضل النتائج الممكنة فنحن نعتمد على عمالة مدربة ومجهزة باحدث الماكينات الحديثة لغسيل المجالس وجميع متعلقاتها حيث اننا نستعمل مجموعة من المنظفات العالية الجودة لضمان الحفاظ على الالياف الداخلية للمجالس فنحن لسنا هواة فى هذا المجال فلدينا باع طويل فى خدمة غسيل المجالس على مستوي المملكة العربية السعودية وبالاخص مدينة الرياض.
    وحتى يتم القيام بعملية غسيل مجالس راقية تقدم شركة غسيل مجالس مجموعة من النصائح والارشادات العامة لاتباعها فى المستقبل والتي هي من اسرار مهنتنا وأولها هو الاعتماد على التنظيف بالبخار بشكل دائم لانه يحافظ على الاقمشة بشكل لا يصدق وضرورة استعمال بعض المنظفات المجربة والتي تعطي للمجالس رونق والوان زاهية بالاضافة للاعتماد على السجاد والموكيت والذين يمثلون مجموعة من أهم المفروشات الخاصة بالمجلس ويجب الاعتناء بتنظيفهم وغسيلهم بشكل دوري حتي يظهروا دائمآ بالمظهر الراقي الذي يليق بضيوفك شركة تنظيف كنب بالرياض.

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