Messages to the Georgetown Community
Reflections on Respect, Inclusion and Diversity
October 9, 2007
Dear Members of the University Community:
I am writing in response to important dialogue that has been raised over the past few weeks related to problems of intolerance and discrimination, particularly those motivated by sexual orientation, within our community.
As someone who has been a part of this community for more than thirty years, I am deeply committed to fostering and sustaining a culture of respect and inclusion so that all students, faculty and staff may make the most of their individual talents and potential.
I too was deeply troubled to learn that a student reported being assaulted and subjected to homophobic slurs in an incident near campus a few weeks ago. University officials responded quickly to meet the needs of this particular individual and continue to look out for his well being. In addition, our Department of Public Safety cooperated fully with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in their investigation.
Another student was arrested on charges of simple assault investigated by MPD's hate crimes unit. It is important to recognize that the student charged has pleaded not guilty and it would be inappropriate to pre-judge the outcome of a case that will be addressed in court and through our student conduct system. This incident, however, has raised important concerns about what is acceptable within our community.
I will not tolerate homophobia or any other form of discrimination on our campus and believe that there are no circumstances in which students, faculty and staff should walk in fear because of any aspect of their identity. The Catholic and Jesuit tradition that animates our community emphasizes the inherent dignity and worth of every human being and calls us each to do our part to foster civility and respect for all members of our community.
Over the years, I have worked in partnership with many of you to address issues of discrimination and intolerance of all kinds on campus, and we must continually recommit ourselves to this important ongoing work. Whether it is homophobia, racism, sexism, religious or other discrimination, intolerance of any kind is an affront not only to individual faculty, staff and students, but also to our entire campus community.
As we reflect upon the importance of our work together, I hope you will join me in engaging in productive and civil discourse and building and sustaining a respectful campus community that best enables us to fulfill the greater purpose of Georgetown University.
John J. DeGioia