Caitlin McCabe wrote for the Daily Tar Heel from August 2010 to May 2013. Currently, she is the real estate reporter for the Inquirer. McCabe reported extensively on UNC's sexual assault and Title IX cases. Summer University Editor David Saff spoke with her to gain some broader context following the conclusion of the OCR's investigation into the University.
The Daily Tar Heel: What launched you into investigating UNC's Title IX issues?
Caitlin McCabe: It started with some conversations. I initially had a conversation with Andrea Pino and Melinda Manning, and they really tipped me off to a problem that UNC was not talking about. I think, with Andrea and Annie Clark pursuing this, that really took what was a local UNC specific issue and they made it a national issue. I spoke with a number of survivors of sexual assault but really just was not quite sure what I was getting into. I really did not realize I was tapping into a conversation that so much of the campus was waiting to have and so much of the country was waiting to have. It started out with just one article, it was December 2012, in which I talked to a handful of women, and they not only described their experiences being sexually assaulted, but the difficulties in that time in their lives compounded with inappropriate handling by the University, so to not only experience the trauma but then to re-experience it in different ways just trying to pursue their case. From there it really just exploded for lack of a better word. The more that I reported, as this tends to happen, the more that came out, and there were allegations that perhaps the University had pressured folks in the administration to underreport sexual assault numbers.
DTH: Can you give a timeline of your coverage?
CM: As you know, the DTH stops publishing right up until the beginning of exams, so we had such a limited amount of time to turn this story. We published the last day of publication in December 2012 before break. and while we were gone a lot started to happen behind the scenes. Melinda, Annie, and Andrea, I think there were 5 of them in total, submitted their complaint with the Department of Education in January 2013. Through the complaint or through reporting about the complaint, we learned that there were allegations that the University had been pressuring members of the administration to underreport sexual assault numbers. I think the University was trying to grapple with what I was reporting and what other news organizations were reporting. Pretty soon after I started reporting, the News and Observer started chasing this and even the New York Times was writing about this and linking to the DTH’s coverage, and it was getting a lot of attention from radio stations. It really just became a huge news story in the spring of 2013.