When the federal government mandated in April 2011 that all federally funded campuses reform their sexual assault policies, the University struggled for more than a year to craft an improved system.
Now, four months after the changes were implemented on Aug. 1, the promised reform has yet to fully take effect — leaving some students feeling abandoned by what they say were administrators’ rushed deliberations.
“The entire process of creating the new policy was very under wraps,” said Andrea Pino, a junior involved with sexual assault education.
“It was loosely addressed by administrators and didn’t have student input,” she said. “Sexual assault is a silent epidemic. And administrators aren’t addressing it with the prominence they should.”
And for some students, the new policy is plagued by problems that leave those who have experience with sexual assault feeling confused and ignored.
But administrators who said they spent long hours crafting a policy that complied with both federal standards and UNC’s needs said the changes are a beneficial step toward adjudicating and educating the campus about a growing national problem.
Changes to the sexual assault policy stemmed from the U.S. Department of Education in the form of a “Dear Colleague” letter — urging universities to update their policies to make sexual harassment resources more accessible to students.
The letter mandated that the University comply with nearly 70 changes, including the requirement to completely remove sexual assault from the jurisdiction of the University’s student-led honor system.
That change forced the University to entirely build its new policy from scratch, said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp.