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The Daily Tar Heel

Sexual Assault Task Force continues work

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said the University’s Sexual Assault Task Force has been rewriting the Honor Code. It has been rewriting University policy. The article has been amended to reflect this change, and The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.

The University’s Sexual Assault Task Force will continue rewrites of University policy this fall — despite its original goal to have recommendations ready by the time students returned to school.

The 21-member committee was commissioned by former Chancellor Holden Thorp to examine UNC policies dealing with student-on-student complaints of sexual violence.

His actions came after a federal complaint was filed with the Department of Education claiming the University underreported cases of sexual assault.

In June, Christi Hurt, interim Title IX coordinator and chairwoman of the task force, said the group hoped to deliver its recommendations to Chancellor Carol Folt by the beginning of the semester.

But Hurt said they were unable to finish the recommendations because members were adamant that they wanted to completely rewrite policies that address sexual assault.

“The group was very clear that they wanted to create something that was UNC-specific,” she said.

The group will meet on Aug. 26, but Hurt said there is no set schedule for future meetings after that.

She said the task force has already clarified the language of the policy and rewritten the section on the process of how a complaint is filed. Now members are looking at who should sit on the panel to judge those cases, Hurt said.

“That’s the lion’s share of our work,” Hurt said.

UNC moved sexual assault out of the jurisdiction of the Honor Court effective Aug. 1, 2012 to comply with federal mandates.

Deputy Title IX Coordinator Ew Quimbaya-Winship, a member of the task force, led discussions about the current system this summer.

He said he was surprised at the group’s commitment to sharing the information they learned with the community.

“There’s been a full vetting of the concerns and issues,” Quimbaya-Winship said. “We’re working really hard to get it right.”

Sarah-Kathryn Bryan, an undergraduate student serving on the task force, said she would initiate conversation by answering students’ questions about sexual violence around campus.

She said members were disappointed they didn’t finish sooner, but they were pleased with how Hurt created a document that was open to input.

“It’s supposed to be a living document that responds to a very vibrant community,” Bryan said.

Kiran Bhardwaj, president of UNC’s Graduate and Professional Student Federation, said the groundwork laid this summer paved the way for policy rewrites.

“It’s not like there’s a model in law enforcement or other universities,” she said.

Bhardwaj said she hoped to see recommendations within the next month or two, but Hurt said it is still unclear.

“Sometime in the fall wouldn’t be unreasonable,” she said. “The work of this task force is ongoing.”

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