This letter to the editor was written by staff representatives from the Office of Advocacy and Support; the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement; the Office of Student Life; the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities; and the Title IX Office.
In the recent opinions piece, “Ethics violations should be grounds for student organizations to remove members,” the author correctly stated that the Code of Student Conduct prohibits student organizations from taking “adjudicatory or sanctioning action” for behavior that could also violate University policy without written approval from the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities.
As representatives from offices across the University, we write today to offer student organizations some information and resources, as well as concrete steps organizations can take now to bolster their ability to respond to members that fail to meet organizational expectations.
The University takes seriously all reports of policy violations, including sexual harassment, and we encourage individuals to report policy violations they experience. Whether reported to the Bias Incident Response Team, the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, the Title IX Office or another office at the University, our processes are intentionally designed to provide support, rights and procedural options to all parties involved so that all members of our community can fully access their educational experiences. This policy prohibiting student organizations from adjudicating potential Code of Conduct violations has the care of students front of mind. Investigating, hearing and determining appropriate action on issues related to your peers can be incredibly taxing and challenging, and this is not a burden that any student or organization should take on independently. The University offices that support students through these situations are trained to handle reports with discretion, care and respect for the privacy and wellness of all involved.
If a member of your organization has experienced discriminatory behavior, a bias incident or sexual harassment – whether by another member of your organization or otherwise – please encourage them to consult one or more of the following resources.
To report an incident to the University and to seek supportive measures, please consult one of the following resources:
Student Rights and Responsibilities: Students can report potential policy violations to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. Additionally, SRR can provide support with conflict management and support resources.
Bias Incident Report: Students who have been the target of, or who witness, a bias incident may use this online form to make the University aware of these incidents. In addition, bias incidents may be reported through other reporting options outlined on the How To Report a Bias-Related Incident page.
Title IX: The Title IX Office responds to reports of sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, and dating and domestic violence. The office provides supportive measures to individuals affected by these issues and offers prevention education University-wide to promote an inclusive educational atmosphere free from discrimination, harassment and violence. Community members are entitled to support from the University regardless of whether they choose to file a formal complaint or pursue a formal resolution of their case. The Title IX Office is the University’s exclusive resource to formally resolve these reports. In addition to formal investigations, the Title IX Office offers a voluntary alternative resolution framework that incorporates restorative justice principles. The Title IX Office can be reached at email@example.com or at 202-994-7434.
SARC: The Sexual Assault Response & Consultation team is a resource for any GW community member affected by sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, and dating and domestic violence. SARC is available 24/7 by phone at 202-994-7222.
To seek supportive measures, please consult one of the following resources:
Counseling and Psychological Services: The University’s Counseling and Psychological Services Office can offer resources as well as counseling support. CAPS is available 24/7 by phone at 202-994-5300.
Office of Advocacy and Support: The Office of Advocacy and Support is committed to ending power-based oppression and violence through prevention programming and reducing its impact by offering confidential support to any GW community member affected by trauma, harm or violence. OAS can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 202-994-0443.
Should your organization become aware of alleged member behavior that violates University policy, you are encouraged to reach out to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities to discuss the most appropriate path forward.
Student organizations are permitted to remove members for behavior that would not be a violation of University policy, and organizational advisers or SRR leaders can help student leaders determine whether or not University policy applies to a specific case. To promote clear expectations and accountability among members, student organizations should define their organizational standards and member requirements and incorporate written reactive measures in their formal membership documents. Your organization’s staff adviser or Org Help are resources to support your organization through the drafting of such standards and written removal processes.
Student organizations are the heart of our campus, and it is only right that the leaders of this community hold each other to high standards of behavior and offer mutual respect for one another. The processes and policies that are in place ensure accountability while promoting an inclusive, safe and productive culture among our diverse community of student organizations.