Georgetown University rally denounces anti-gay violence

By Emma Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 31, 2009

About 50 Georgetown University students rallied on campus at noon Friday to show solidarity with a student who was allegedly attacked this week because of her perceived sexual orientation.

"We should not have to fear for our lives when we walk down the street," said freshman JM Alatis, secretary and historian of GU Pride, the student group that organized the rally in less than 24 hours via Facebook, Twitter, text message and e-mail.

The assault occurred about 9:10 p.m. Tuesday, the university's Department of Public Safety said. A female student walking on Canal Road near the entrance to Georgetown's campus was confronted by two men who shouted anti-gay insults at her. The assailants, described as white males in their late 20s, grabbed her book bag, pushed her to the ground and struck her with the bag before leaving the scene, according to a university statement.

The student was wearing a gay rights T-shirt at the time, she later told campus police. She suffered minor injuries but did not require medical attention, authorities said.

The assailants were at large Friday, and neither campus nor District police were investigating the incident. The university turned over the initial incident report to District police because the alleged assault occurred off campus and, therefore, outside the school's jurisdiction, said university spokesman Andy Pino.

District police cannot take action unless the victim speaks to officers, which she had not consented to do, said police spokeswoman Traci Hughes.

Students who rallied Friday said anti-gay harassment is common on campus and at college parties.

"This stuff happens all the time," said sophomore Markus Brazill, "but a lot of us are afraid of reporting it."

Last fall, a Georgetown medical student was assaulted with a glass bottle by two men shouting homophobic slurs. In September 2007, a sophomore was arrested for allegedly assaulting a fellow student in what police investigated as a possible hate crime. Prosecutors later dropped the case, citing a lack of evidence, but the incident contributed to the establishment last year of a campus resource center for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.

According to the resource center's Web site, it is the first such center at a Jesuit university in the United States.

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