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The Daily Tar Heel

Sexual assault questions remain unresolved

Andrea Pino and Landen
Andrea Pino and Landen

In the year since multiple federal complaints have thrown UNC into the national spotlight for its handling of sexual assault cases, the University has taken tangible steps toward repairing its policies.

Yet the sexual assault scandal is far from resolved, as a task force is still working on months-overdue policy recommendations for the University, which is forced to wait as the federal complaints slowly unfold.

In December 2012, two students publicly accused UNC of improperly processing their assault cases by ineffective interim procedures handled through the Honor Court.

One of the students, Landen Gambill, has been involved in three federal complaints against UNC, including one related to Honor Court charges, which were eventually dropped, that claimed she intimidated the man whom she accused of raping her.

“Feelings of shock have been followed by realizing that this isn’t just about me at all, it’s about how the University is willing to treat survivors unjustly in order to protect rapists,” Gambill said in February.

In early January, three students, one former student and former Assistant Dean of Students Melinda Manning co-filed a federal complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, alleging Title IX violations. The complainants accused the University of creating a hostile environment for students reporting sexual assault, and Manning claimed the University pressured her to underreport sexual assault.

The University denied Manning’s accusations, but a Daily Tar Heel analysis published in April found discrepancies in the University’s 2010 sexual assault data. These accusations have been followed by a slew of similar complaints nationwide as students from California to Massachusetts filed Title IX-related complaints against their own universities.

UNC senior Andrea Pino, one of the complainants who co-filed against UNC, has said that her federal complaint inspired sexual assault victims to speak out publicly.

“I did this for the bigger good of my fellow Tar Heels,” she said in November.

Former Chancellor Holden Thorp responded to the growing scandal in part by creating a Title IX coordinator position to manage UNC’s compliance with federal guidelines and to oversee campus training, education and outreach on Title IX issues — including sexual assault.

Public criticism for failing to seek public input in the March appointment of Ew Quimbaya-Winship as deputy Title IX officer spurred the University to host a series of public forums for the Title IX coordinator candidates. In April, Thorp appointed Carolina Women’s Center Director Christi Hurt as interim Title IX coordinator.

At the start of summer, Hurt oversaw the launching of a sexual assault task force formed to review the University’s policies. The task force, which originally planned to present policy recommendations to Chancellor Carol Folt at the start of the fall semester, now expects to work into the spring.

On Nov. 1, the University announced that Howard Kallem, the District of Columbia Enforcement Office’s chief regional attorney for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, will begin as the new Title IX coordinator starting Jan. 2.

The University still faces three federal investigations into its handling of sexual assault. Folt has yet to fill an additional Title IX investigator position.

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