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Andrea Pino graduates from UNC, but reforms will go on

Pino’s college career came to a conclusion this past weekend after an eventful four years that were highlighted when she brought her issues with UNC’s response to her sexual assault case to the nation’s attention.

“I will never stop being a Tar Heel, but I am ready to leave,” she said.

Despite Pino’s peace with departing just as the reforms she started are taking place, she said she is worried for the sexual assault movement on campus going forward.

“I am concerned over the momentum on campus in terms of individual student input,” Pino said. “I think the most important part of any movement is how successful it is on campus, because we can have a great national scene, but if we do not have campuses actually holding their universities accountable, then we can only do so much.”

She said there were still gaps in the reforms, specifically mentioning training, resource management and breaking the sexual assault stereotype as areas in which the University could improve.

Pino said she personally struggled with academically readjusting after she was sexually assaulted at an off-campus party in 2012.

“We need the ability to become students again after sexual violence,” she said.

Pino said there was a disconnect between Accessibility Resources and Service and Academic Advising that made her transition back to a normal college life difficult. The lack of communication resulted in her having to overload her schedule this past semester in order to graduate, she said.

When asked about the next step in the movement on campus, Christi Hurt, director of the Carolina Women’s Center, said the work of the University’s Sexual Assault Task Force will dictate the progression of the reforms.

“After the task force releases their report, we will have a new (sexual assault) policy, and that will be in place soon,” Hurt said.

Pino said she’ll be glad to see the task force’s work put into action but acknowledged it’s only the beginning.

“I think the policy is really only step one here at Carolina,” she said. “I think we need students who are willing to and are going to hold this university accountable and demand transparency.”

Hurt said she didn’t think Pino’s departure from campus would halt the movement she started.

“Andrea has been a valuable voice for sexual assault survivors and for all of her work, and that has been a tremendous effort on her part, but there are a lot of folks who continue to advocate for improvements to the University’s services for survivors,” Hurt said.

UNC’s Title IX Compliance Coordinator Howard Kallem applauded the efforts of Pino but said he is not concerned the movement will die down.

“This is not to take away from any of the work that Andrea has done, but she has not been the only voice, and the other voices will continue,” he said.

Hurt mentioned that Pino’s and others’ efforts have made the issue of sexual assault — and subsequent UNC reforms — nationally prominent enough that awareness will not disappear due to the loss of one voice.

“We all long for the day where we are put out of business because we have ended all forms of violence, harassment and discrimination, but until we have done that as a society, I do not think that any of this will be losing visibility,” Hurt said.

Pino does not intend to ignore her new alma mater now that she is no longer an undergraduate.

“I’ll continue to be vocal, but I do hope other students begin to take on this issue,” she said.

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When Pino started college, she said she never imagined she would do something that would result in receiving death threats, but she never had any second thoughts about choosing UNC.

“I never regretted going to Carolina — Carolina was my dream school, and it still is my dream school,” she said. “The main reason why I filed my complaint was not to seek recourse for myself but to make Carolina better.”

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