In the midst of a sexual assault scandal that has brought national scrutiny to the University, the UNC community is now looking to become a leader in increasing conversations about sexual assault awareness.
“Whether you like it or not, UNC-Chapel Hill, you are at the forefront of changing the conversation,” said Gina Smith, a sexual violence expert hired by the University, at the first meeting of the Sexual Assault Task Force Wednesday.
The 21-member committee is charged with reviewing UNC’s current policies and procedures and presenting its recommendations to Equal Opportunity Officer Ann Penn, who led the member selection process.
At the meeting, Smith explained how sexual assault became a nationwide discussion and how the members of the task force should approach a solution.
The scandal at Penn State University in the fall of 2011 led to widespread media exposure of the issue, she said.
“It has infiltrated our conversation.”
Smith said the conversation was also pushed forward by the accessibility of information through social media and the courage of students to share their experiences.
She added the most common complaint she hears is that universities should give the cases to the police.
But because of Title IX requirements and the recent “Dear Colleague” letters, college campuses are responsible for investigating complaints, regardless of police involvement, Smith said.