University should reform sexual assault response

Students who have been sexually assaulted deserve a process from the University that is fair, affirming and safe. But according to the stories of Landen Gambill and another female student, the UNC administrators’ handling of sexual assault cases has directly and negatively affected their lives.

Their stories of unequal treatment, victim-blaming and violation of privacy show the need for a complete, public reevaluation of how cases of sexual assault should be handled at this University.

Gambill and the other student filed complaints of sexual assault under the interim procedure for sexual assault. The interim policy was put together in January to comply with an update in federal law until the University could craft a new sexual assault policy.

But the new policy, implemented Aug. 1, was written by a small group of UNC administrators, with too little input from students or administrators involved in interpersonal violence prevention.

The policy should be completely rewritten by a committee including students and administrators who have experience dealing with these issues. Their expertise, along with public input, would help ensure the new policies will prevent future incidents of mistreatment.

The University is still in the process of hiring a Deputy Title IX Officer who will oversee all response to sexual violence on campus. The person hired for this position should have expertise in sexual assault policies, interpersonal violence prevention and working with victims of sexual assault.

The University owes students justice and fairness.

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