No contact order creates another tool in dealing with student conduct
Sophomore Claire Hernandez felt lost when she was repeatedly threatened and harassed by a male student last year.
After some consideration, she decided it was time to inquire about an order of no-contact.
“It took me a long time to start doing things, just because I guess I just thought it would go away by itself and it just didn’t. It’s not the kind of thing that just goes away,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez contacted her resident adviser, who told her to speak with the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office. The office issued her a no-contact order, which prevents the student from contacting her in any way as long as they are both enrolled at the University.
She was also directed to the Carolina Women’s Center for emotional support and UNC Police to provide any additional support while her case was evaluated.
“Public safety was very helpful. I had a specific lieutenant on my case and we went to court the first time by ourselves to sort of explain myself and explain the situation,” she said. “The judge handed me my no-contact order, which was official for the state of North Carolina and also an ex parte order, so he couldn’t be within 20 feet of me.”
Hernandez said the problem with the procedure was that she didn’t know who to go to first and who would be able to help her. This made her hesitant to reach out to the EOC office to begin with.
“I think it definitely needs to be more emphasized once you get to the University that there are resources that can help you, that are happy to help you,” she said. “I definitely think my situation would’ve been easier had I had more knowledge on what to do.”
Dean of Students Jonathan Sauls said no-contact orders may take a variety of forms, including no email, phone, in-person communication or communication through messengers. The no-contact order can be adapted to the needs of the given situation.
“I would say in the majority of cases, (a no-contact order) is designed under the label of an interim measure, to say, ‘We want to maintain a safe and secure environment while we are working through another process,' whether that’s Title IX, Honor System, EOC, whatever it may be,” Sauls said.
Sauls said he encourages students who have questions or might want to procure an order of no contact to contact the Title IX office, his office and even the Office of Student Conduct.
“We are not interested in erecting huge barriers if someone is coming to us to express a level of concern," Sauls said. "We are usually going to spend some time together talking through the advantages, as well as the limitations, of an order of no contact.”
Hernandez’s boyfriend, junior Aaron Hougui, said things got a little out of hand with the other student, and he believes if she didn’t have the no-contact order, it would still be a problem.
“You hear about a lot of things, yet without these no-contact orders, there would probably be more cases of things that went horribly awry if measures like these weren’t put in place,” he said.
Sauls said he has seen remarkable success with no-contact orders because of the way they are set up.
“Because they’re pre-disciplinary, there is often a strong incentive for the recipient of that to observe it," he said. "Failure to do so could result in a campus disciplinary process that might affect your enrollment or other privileges you enjoy."
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