Summer Quick Hits
Georgetown University appointed Samantha Berner as the new Title IX coordinator and director of Title IX compliance, after a yearlong search to fill the role. Laura Cutway vacated her position as Title IX coordinator unexpectedly in June 2018.
The announcement of Berner’s permanent appointment was sent via email only to students on the Title IX coordinator search committee and the Sexual Assault and Misconduct Advisory Committee, and leaves vacant the Title IX investigator role in which Berner previously served. The university will introduce Berner more widely after she officially assumes the role and more students are on campus, according to university spokesperson Rachel Pugh.
Following the results of the student referendum on the GU272 reconciliation fee, Georgetown’s board of directors did not vote on whether to implement the fee at its June 10 meeting. In April, students voted overwhelmingly in favor of a referendum to establish a semesterly fee that would go toward a fund to benefit descendants of the GU272, the 272 enslaved people sold by the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus to financially sustain the university in 1838.
Georgetown is not obliged to enact the results of a student referendum and is not bound to enact the fee, though the board of directors hopes to continue discussion with the community about the issue of a reconciliation fee, according to Pugh.
Georgetown University Student Association
Norman Francis Jr. (COL ’20) and Aleida Olvera (COL ’20) won the 2019 GUSA executive election Feb. 9 by a narrow margin of 40 votes. While solo ticket Nicki Gray (NHS ’20) led in the first two rounds of voting, President Francis and Vice President Olvera received 983 votes and took 51% of the votes in the final round, closely defeating Gray, who earned 943 votes, or 49%.
The pair underscored outreach to student advocacy groups in their campaign, running on a platform of transparency, reform, accessibility and progress, abbreviated as T.R.A.P.
In a door-to-door poll of 615 students conducted by The Hoya on Feb. 6, 2% of respondents rated their current trust in GUSA as strong; 23.9% of respondents rated their trust in GUSA as medium and 38.9% rated their trust in GUSA as weak. The election had 32% turnout, with 2,185 students casting votes, the lowest voter turnout since the 2007 executive election. Overall voter turnout for executive student elections was 39% in 2018 and 38% in 2017, according to the GUSA election commission.
Georgetown Parents, Former Coach Face Bribery Charges
The Department of Justice charged former tennis Coach Gordon Ernst with falsely designating at least 12 students as tennis recruits in Georgetown’s admissions process in exchange for $2.7 million in bribes between 2012 and 2018, according to an indictment involving eight U.S. universities. Five parents with children at Georgetown between 2013 and 2019 were among those charged. In May, the university announced its intention to dismiss two students and rescind their initial offers of admission.
Georgetown hosted a variety of speakers on campus in the 2018-19 school year, including actor Bradley Cooper (COL ’97), 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang, comedian Hasan Minhaj and rapper Meek Mill. Cooper, who made his directorial debut with his remake of “A Star Is Born,” released Oct. 5, spoke about his success in film and life at a discussion with Blair Rich (COL ’97) and University President John J. DeGioia (CAS ’79, GRD ’95) in Gaston Hall on Sept. 11. Yang, the first Asian American man to run for the Democratic nomination for president, advocated for the introduction of a guaranteed income program for all U.S. citizens over 18 at an event in Lohrfink Auditorium on Feb. 19.
14 Abusive Priests Found in Georgetown’s Past, Present
Fourteen Catholic religious leaders associated with the university have faced credible or plausible accusations of sexual abuse, according to a monthslong investigation by The Hoya published March 15. Georgetown confirmed the university affiliations of all 13 priests and a nun in a March 13 statement to The Hoya. The university had publicly recognized abuse allegations against only four of the individuals named and one priest retained the title of professor emeritus at Georgetown until the week of the investigation’s publication.
On-Campus Food Pantry Opens
GUSA opened the Hoya Hub, an on-campus pantry offering free nonperishable food items to members of the Georgetown community, on Oct. 1 as part of an initiative to combat food insecurity. The Hoya Hub partnered with Students of Georgetown Inc., commonly referred to as The Corp, on a Swipe It Forward Flex Donation Drive for students to donate their unused Flex dollars at the end of the school year to restock the Hoya Hub’s pantry.
GUSA President Resigns Following Pressure from Senior GUSA Leadership
Former Georgetown University Student Association President Sahil Nair (SFS ’ 19) resigned Sept. 11, 2018, following allegations of sexual misconduct raised against him and the resulting pressure from GUSA senior staff. Nair maintains that no complaints against him were ever submitted to the Office of Student Conduct or in the Title IX sexual misconduct reporting system; a university spokesperson confirmed that, as of May 2019, Nair was not the subject of any complaints through either office. Vice President Naba Rahman (SFS ’19), Chief of Staff Aaron Bennett (COL ’19) and nine senior executive staffers also resigned.