The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday August 12th

Department of Education on campus investigating UNC's handling of sexual assault

U.S. Department of Education investigators have arrived on campus, looking for student input as part of an inquiry into UNC’s handling sexual assault.

DOE officials are looking to meet with students this afternoon, particularly minorities and those in the LGBT community, to discuss how UNC handles sexual assault cases, said Andrea Pino, a sexual assault survivor and activist.

The student input is part of an investigation by the DOE that started last April into UNC’s compliance with the Clery Act — a law that requires colleges and universities to publish campus security policies and crime statistics.

The investigation was opened after former Assistant Dean of Students Melinda Manning accused the University of pressuring her to underreport the number of sexual assaults to the federal government. UNC has denied the accusation.

Each violation of the Clery Act can result in a fine up to $35,000.

The University released a statement saying it is complying with federal investigators, but a spokeswoman declined to give information about the DOE’s on-campus visit.

“The University is committed to complying with the Clery Act and meeting our responsibilities to inform students and the campus community about safety threats and criminal activity,” the statement read. “We are constantly striving to improve those efforts.”

A representative from the DOE couldn’t be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Pino said she didn’t have details about the time or place of the department’s visit.

Howard Kallem, UNC’s Title IX coordinator, who had previously worked in the DOE’s Office for Civil Rights, said department investigations can span from a few months to years.

“Clery is handled in a different department than Title IX investigations and they have their own procedures,” he said.

Kallem said in his experience in Title IX investigations, it is a back-and-forth process between investigators and the university to determine if the campus violated Title IX or any other federal laws. He also said investigations are often concluded before a decision is presented.

The University is also facing another DOE investigation into potential Title IX violations stemming from complaints by current and former UNC students that the University created a “hostile environment” for sexual assault victims.

Pino said she hasn’t heard an update on that case since filing with two other students, a former student and Manning.

“Well over 15 complaints (from other universities) have been filed to the OCR since our complaint, so they are a little overwhelmed.”

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