As the U.S. Department of Education begins an investigation into the University’s handling of sexual assault, administrators are making efforts toward fostering an improved relationship with survivors of sexual assault.
The University appointed Jayne Grandes to fill the new position of investigator in the Equal Opportunity/Americans with Disabilities Act Office, a role designed to more thoroughly look in to complaints of sexual misconduct and harassment.
Grandes started the position Monday, just days after Chancellor Holden Thorp received a letter March 1 announcing that the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights had opened an investigation of UNC’s treatment of sexual assault cases.
The investigation stems from a federal complaint filed by three students, one former student and one former administrator on Jan. 16, accusing UNC of underreporting cases of sexual assault in 2010 and facilitating a hostile environment on campus for sexual assault survivors.
Jim Bradshaw, a spokesman for the Department of Education, said in an email that UNC will be investigated for allegations of failure to respond to sexual harassment concerns, provide appropriate grievance procedures, impartially investigate and train officials.
While UNC begins to meet the investigation requests — including submitting multiple documents detailing UNC’s sexual assault policies — Grandes is establishing her role.
“This is part of a larger effort in the University,” said Ann Penn, an Equal Opportunity/Americans with Disabilities Act officer at UNC.
“The position was created to help the University better respond to these complaints. We take them very seriously and want to make sure that we have a campus and environment where people do feel safe and free from any kind of discrimination or harassment,” she said.
Penn said the position was initially created last fall after the federal government released a “Dear Colleague” letter in April 2011, mandating that federally funded campuses update sexual assault policies.