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Thorp names interim Title IX coordinator

Christi Hurt, Carolina Women's Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Christi Hurt, Carolina Women's Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Christi Hurt said she wants to see the day when people who work in sexual violence prevention are out of a job.

“I’d love to put all of us who work in that field out of business and to create a culture where we don’t have sexual violence,” she said.

“But until we get to that point, sexual violence is everybody’s problem,” she said. “And we need all hands on deck.”

It is with that mindset that Hurt, current director of the Carolina Women’s Center, will approach her new job at UNC: interim Title IX coordinator.

The position, which Hurt said she will fill for three to four months while the University conducts a national search for a permanent Title IX coordinator, will allow Hurt to lay the groundwork for addressing issues surrounding sexual assault at UNC.

Chancellor Holden Thorp announced the creation of a full-time Title IX coordinator Tuesday night in a campus-wide email — marking the third position created this semester to address sexual violence on campus.

The establishment of the position — which was mandated by the Department of Education’s “Dear Colleague” letter in April 2011 — comes on the heels of months of controversy surrounding the way UNC handles sexual assault. Allegations that the University has” treated sexual assault survivors inappropriately”: and insensitively have swirled — culminating in two federal investigations, which launched in March.

Thorp said in his statement that the new position will lead the University’s efforts toward complying with Title IX, the 40-year-old federal law that prohibits sexual violence, among other protections.

More specifically, Thorp cited that the new position would focus its efforts on three main areas: improving the campus climate, establishing effective resources for those affected by sexual harassment and violence and implementing policies that are in compliance with federal mandates.

Hurt said her biggest duty will be improving UNC’s Title IX system — an oversight role that will allow her to collaborate with other administrators who deal with sexual violence.

“I’ll be documenting roles and responsibilities, identifying gaps and identifying strengths we want to bolster, on campus” she said.

University spokesman Mike McFarland said Ann Penn, UNC’s Equal Opportunity/Americans with Disabilities Act officer, served as acting Title IX officer before Hurt.

UNC will not use an outside search firm to conduct the search for a permanent candidate, McFarland said. He added that internal, national searches resulted in the hiring of Ew Quimbaya-Winship as deputy Title IX officer in February and Jayne Grandes as investigator in the Equal Opportunity/Americans with Disabilities Act Office in March, two positions that work with sexual assault.

Hurt said she will not apply for the permanent position.

Hurt will also spearhead a task force dedicated to reviewing UNC’s sexual assault policy this summer.

Student Body President Christy Lambden said in a roundtable forum Wednesday that the current policy lacks transparency — and it’s important that the task force remain vigilant in maintaining transparency and soliciting student input.

“The committee over the summer will be looking at the policy from four different angles: content, tone, clarity and layout,” Lambden said.

“We made errors with the policy the first time around, we’re not going to make the same errors the second time around,” he said.

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