'I want them to say this is not OK': Students protest Title IX investigation process

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Sammie Espada, a junior women's and gender studies and political science double major, reads out grievances addressed to the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office as protesters watch on.

Demonstrators gathered outside the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office building on Franklin Street to protest the Title IX process following the release of the office's decision that UNC football player Allen Artis did not violate the University's policy on sexual assault. 

Protestors held signs and passed out pamphlets with information on sexual assault to people walking along Franklin Street, asking them to help end sexual assault on UNC’s campus. Organizers wrote a letter to the EOC Office expressing their grievances toward the Title IX investigation process, which received over 100 signatures during the demonstration. They then read the letter aloud and delivered it to the EOC Office at the end of the protest. The group is hoping to gain more signatures on their online petition. 

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Sammie Espada (right), a junior women's and gender studies and poll sic double major, holds out a letter addressed to the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office as Michele Natale (left) signs.

Junior Sammie Espada, one of the organizers of the protest, said the event was informal and more about having one-on-one conversations with people. She said she wants survivors to know that the University is a safe space to talk about their experiences on campus and know they can still seek justice. 

“The main thing I want to see is (the University) saying 'We hear you, and we’re acknowledging a bigger problem here, and we will fill this obligation,'” Espada said. “I want to see them reacting to our grievances and actually doing what they’re saying they want to be doing. I want them to say this is not OK.”

Senior Savannah Peters, another organizer, said the protest is about the larger picture and saying the University has an obligation to students and survivors of sexual assault to show it values their experiences and will keep them safe. 

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Protesters march down the hallway leading to the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office on Monday.

Peters said she wants to see Title IX be more transparent about their processes and findings after investigations, so people can be more aware of how the process works and the resources available to them.

“I don’t feel like we talk about it on a big enough stage,” Peters said. “We don’t talk about it enough at orientation, and we don’t talk about it enough where the student body has to hear those words, has to understand what our policy is.”

Junior Morgan Pratt, who attended the event, said the University does not do enough to protect people from sexual violence or help survivor get justice. 

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Sammie Espada, a junior women's and gender studies and political science double major, slides the letter of grievances under the door of the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office, upon finding the office completely empty.

“It’s part of a huge systemic problem that’s really disgraceful,” Pratt said. “Not only involving UNC, but particularly involving UNC.”

Junior Kristy Sakano said she thinks the situation is very distressing since less than a week ago, students had to complete a module stating the rules and regulations that Title IX covers in order to register for classes. 

“To find that the University is completely disregarding all of these in relation to Delaney Robinson’s case is absolutely ridiculous,” Sakano said. “It’s something that none of us should stand for.”

university@dailytarheel.com

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