After students called for UNC to act on sexual assault, a new committee this month will help survivors and allies find a unified voice to communicate with the administration.
Seniors Hannah Petersen and Emma Johnson said they officially got approval to run the committee last week. The committee is designed to work in conjunction with the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office.
Petersen and Johnson proposed the committee as a way to continue work toward reform after they planned an Oct. 12 event called “Our Story,” in reaction to the university's handling of sexual assault cases. At the event, 21 survivors shared their stories.
“It’s easy to listen to all the stories at the event, brush your hands, and walk away,” Petersen said. “This committee is a way to carry on the conversation.”
Petersen and Johnson said the committee will focus on both policy changes and starting conversations about sexual assault on campus.
“We want to change the dialogue on campus and the culture on campus when it comes to rape and sexual assault,” Johnson said. “We can run video series and photo series that can be as bold as we want them because that’s our right as students.”
She and Petersen said they want to tackle a lot of things through the committee, but they'll let the committee decide what to prioritize once it's formed. Included in their list of goals is changing how sexual assault is discussed at orientation, making online modules about sexual assault more meaningful and creating a uniform training that more University employees would be required to take.
An interest meeting for potential members is set to be Nov. 7 at 5 p.m. in the Carolina Union.
“Ideally, we want 15 to 20 core members of the committee — people who can meet regularly,” Petersen said. “We want to make it a majority-survivor committee, because you don’t really know what you need in the situation until you have lived experience. We want voices to be culminated into one strong voice to be heard.”