Over the past decade, hundreds of students have encountered hostility, victim blaming, and lack of certain administrators’ support when reporting sexual assault and harassment. Survivors have been re-victimized by a system that strives for surface compliance, but that in practice, contributes to their trauma and the tolerance of sexual violence.
Facilitated by an administration that is not properly trained to support survivors, many students have been mistreated, ignored, and discriminated against. Specifically with female students and staff, the pervasive pattern of sexual harassment and sexual assault has hindered equal access to education and therefore constituted sexual discrimination, putting the University in violation of Title IX.
Our mission is to raise awareness about the pervasiveness of sexual and interpersonal violence at Carolina, and to demand policies which are designed to help students succeed, not designed to solely comply in word but not in practice.
Our vision is to live in a world free from sexual violence, starting with UNC Chapel Hill, and until that occurs, we will continually strive to have the best student-focused and survivor-supportive policies and environment in the country. As a premier public institution, it is not only our privilege, but also our responsibility to be a leader on this issue.
Therefore, as students, staff, faculty, alumni/ae, community members, and allies invested in the betterment and safety of our University, we hereby call on Chancellor Thorp and the UNC Board of Trustees to take the following specific action steps:
• The university to address multiple Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) violations, mental disability disability discrimination (Title II of ADA), victimization, and severe injustice in the treatment of the case of Landen Gambill.
• Training for Honor Court and Student Grievances Committee students that is comprehensive and complies with federal law and the expectations of Title IX, The Dear Colleague Letters of 2010 and 2011 and the Clery Act
• An investigation into University compliance with the following: Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972; Title VII, Title VI, of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and Title II of the American with Disabilities Act by administrators in charge of honor court training and policy to start no later than March 15th, 2013.
• An investigation into the reporting of sexual assaults and compliance with the The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, to start no later than March 15th, 2013
• An expedited 5 year review of Dean of Students Jonathan Sauls, that is transparent, fair, and involves students to be started no later than March 15, 2013
• An expedited 5 year review of Director of the Equal Opportunity/Americans with Disabilities Act Office (EO/ADA) Ann Penn, that is transparent, fair, and involves students to be started no later than March 15, 2013
• Provide specialized mental health support and inform of accommodation for survivors of sexual assault both before and after hearings, even alleged assaulters are not convicted.
• Two separate comprehensive policies (Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Harassment) that are fair, student centered, highly visible, and easy to access, and whose writing will include input from the informed campus and community experts who work with interpersonal violence response and prevention, and work directly with survivors.
• A stronger disciplinary punishment for perpetrators found guilty of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment.
• Improve the Alert Carolina system as to provide timely warnings of student incidents (on and off campus) that is in compliance with The Clery Act and that provides transparency and clarification of what constitutes a “threat to the community.”
• Strongly encourage HAVEN for university faculty and staff to start Fall Semester 2013
• Strongly encourage Safe Zone training for university faculty and staff to start Fall Semester 2013
A recent survivor of sexual assault on campus said: “I don’t know what the point is of staying at Carolina if every time I try to get up the university pushes me down again.” The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill remains one of the best places in the world to earn an education. But, this is not our Carolina. We as a University and as a community can do better.
The University must embrace these concerns as an opportunity to become a pioneer for effective and pivotal improvement in student support. Carolina has the opportunity to be a model for change, and as it does in exceptional academics, our University should aim to lead in addressing these critical issues of non-compliance, and declare that sexual violence has no place in the University environment.