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In its last meeting of the year, UNC’s Sexual Assault Task Force made recommendations on adjudication — a subject it has worked on for the better part of the semester.

On Monday, members approved panels — rather than a previously discussed option of a single person — to be responsible for handling the process that follows an investigation. They also agreed that students should no longer sit on the adjudication panels.

Both votes were unanimous.

Currently, three panelists sit on each student grievance committee — a student, a professor and a staff member. Sexual assault was moved out of the jurisdiction of the Honor Court to the grievance committee last fall.

Questions still remain around how many people would serve on each panel, how many people would be qualified and trained to adjudicate cases and how lawyers would impact the processes.

Despite its original goal of presenting recommendations to Chancellor Carol Folt by the beginning of the fall semester, the group will be working into the spring.

Some members of the task force said they wanted the panels to be as small as possible, but use multiple perspectives.

“I think it helps check normal human fallibility and gives opportunity to discuss,” said Kiran Bhardwaj, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Federation and task force member.

“It’d be hard to tell your story to a huge crowd. It’s even more difficult one-on-one.”

Interim Title IX Coordinator Christi Hurt, chairwoman of the task force, said training for adjudicators has to be extensive. Hurt said she was told by Winston Crisp, vice chancellor for student affairs, the task force could make any recommendation about hiring once its work is done.

The task force discussed which people would be trained to sit in on the hearings — tenured professors, the Title IX coordinators, members of the community and experts from nearby universities remain possibilities.

“I know we’ve talked about people from on and off campus — I might think having people within the campus community carries more leverage,” said Desiree Rieckenberg, senior associate dean of students.

Bhardwaj said sexual assault experts from other universities could be tapped.

“I would love to see a job description with qualifications,” Bhardwaj said. “Someone who is not beholden to UNC-Chapel Hill.”

Some areas of UNC’s sexual assault policies have become cloudier because of state politics. Gov. Pat McCrory signed a law earlier this fall that would guarantee students involved in some disciplinary procedures the right to a lawyer — legislation UNC lobbied against.

Members of the task force were unsure how a lawyer could impact the time it takes to hear a case, and whether students’ learning experience from the case would be hindered by allowing a lawyer to sit in instead of them, adding a lawyer’s availability could also potentially prolong the process.

The task force is planning a day-long retreat in January and Hurt said she hopes new Title IX Coordinator Howard Kallem will join the retreat.

“I feel like we’ve been on the verge of finishing the adjudicative model for three months, and I’d love to do it,” she said.

university@dailytarheel.com

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