The University’s Sexual Assault Task Force is taking a measured approach as it attempts to bring clarity and accessibility to UNC’s Honor Code — but qualms about the power dynamics of the group have been raised.
“We are collecting the wisdom of the room as we go through,” said Christi Hurt, interim Title IX coordinator and chairwoman of the committee.
The task force met for the fourth time Wednesday to continue planning how to create a sexual assault policy that better suits all parties.
But Ann Penn, UNC’s equal opportunity officer, excused herself mid-meeting to allow the group to continue its discussion without her.
Terri Phoenix, director of the LGBTQ Center, said Penn’s presence represented a problematic power differential because her position involves running the office that will implement the policy and ultimately handle the task force’s recommendations.
After Penn left the meeting, the task force discussed how it would operate and come to a consensus in future meetings.
Hurt said Wednesday’s meeting was an important turning point for the group in turning power over to committee members.
Gina Smith, a sexual violence expert, focused in last week’s meeting on how to determine whether a sexual assault occurred.
Leslie Gomez, an attorney who specializes in sexual misconduct, said law enforcement and educational institutions define sexual assault differently.