Statement on Community Safety and Speech and Expression

By Todd A. Olson, Vice President for Student Affairs

As President DeGioia shared in his statement on January 6 and his subsequent message to the community on January 12, on January 6 we “witnessed a violent attempt to disrupt the democratic process and prevent our Congress from fulfilling its Constitutional responsibilities. These acts are reprehensible and have no place in our country.” 

Following the violence at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, members of our community have asked questions about how the University will consider incitement of and participation in violence involving students and other members of the university community.

First and foremost, we are guided by the principle that everyone in the Georgetown community has a right to a safe and harassment-free environment. Across all of our policies, Georgetown’s top priority is the health and safety of each member of our community.

Our long-standing Speech and Expression policy has guided our approach to speech, and we are committed to maintaining the values of academic freedom and serving as a forum for the free exchange of ideas, even when those ideas may be controversial and objectionable to some. Our community is strengthened by civil dialogue, but violence is not tolerated at Georgetown. As noted in the Speech and Expression policy, genuine threats and expression that violates the University’s Harassment Policy are prohibited.

We affirm that discourse, discussion and debate are essential components of academic life, and that our Jesuit identity is rooted in principles of equality and respect for everyone. During times of division and uncertainty, we are reminded that we find community in diversity and strength in our care for others.