The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Friday, Dec. 8, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Sexual Assault Task Force holds 7 hour meeting

Handwritten lists on sticky notes and large sheets of paper plastered the walls during the Sexual Assault Task Force’s meeting Wednesday.

In the first of three day-long sessions scheduled for July, the group worked to brainstorm the terms Interim Title IX Coordinator and Chairwoman of the task force Christi Hurt said they would need to clearly define to complete their charge.

“We have the context set, we have heard from the community and we are identifying where those problems are and coming to consensus,” she said.

Hurt said she was happy with the changes that came out of the last meeting where concerns were aired about the group’s dynamics, resulting in Equal Opportunity Officer Ann Penn leaving the group mid-meeting. Penn announced her retirement from the University two weeks later.

In response to their discussions, Hurt introduced a new system for the members to reach a consensus. Members now use their hands to indicate whether or not they agree with decisions moving forward — they will hold up five fingers if they are in complete agreement, three if they are okay with the idea, and one if they disagree.

Hurt also addressed the group’s concern for how the recommendations would be received.

She said Chancellor Carol Folt and her cabinet will receive them directly, instead of going through the Equal Opportunity Office as previously planned.

Deputy Title IX Coordinator Ew Quimbaya-Winship explained the current system for reporting sexual assault complaints at the meeting, calling it complex for young students who may be confused and often traumatized.

He also raised the concern that complainants were required to retell their experience multiple times throughout the process.

But Quimbaya-Winship said he was unsure whether they should rewrite the entire appendix on sexual assault or make changes to certain sections.

“I don’t think there’s an easy answer to that,” he said.

“It still needs more attention from top to bottom.”

Leslie Gomez, an attorney specializing in sexual assault who attended the meeting, said another issue in the current policy is the confusion surrounding how to report incidents.

She said most faculty and staff don’t have adequate training in passing on a report to the proper administrators -— and not knowing what to do can worsen the situation.

“In doing the dance, you reinforce the culture of silence,” Gomez said.

In the second half of the meeting, representatives from the Employee Forum joined the task force in defining terms.

Hurt said they came because the employee section of the Honor Code will be examined down the road.

But she was still uncertain as to how long the process will take.

“We don’t have a sunset date,” she said.

“We were always striving to have something done by the time students come back in the fall — I would love to see that happen.”

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.