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Campus Safety Commission discusses administrative communication flaws at meeting

Campus Safety Commission
The Campus Safety Commission met on Wednesday to speak about previous listening sessions.

The 20 leaders of the Campus Safety Commission discussed the reported ineffectiveness of Alert Carolina, sexual assault on campus and the communication issues between administration and the student body at Wednesday's meeting. 

Lindsay Ayling, graduate student and activist, spoke during the open comments section of the meeting, where she highlighted recent threats of gun violence on campus and on Franklin Street from Confederates. 

She mentioned that during the incident when an armed Heirs To The Confederacy group came to campus waving Confederate flags on Aug. 20 — the first day of classes this semester — Alert Carolina failed to send out a warning to students and faculty on campus.

Ayling said some neo-Confederates were open-carrying, and some were concealed-carrying weapons, while they were close to campus on Franklin Street. Because of this, she said students and community members should have been warned of this imminent danger. 

“These people were literally threatening to kill us with guns, and they brought guns to campus, and the police did not see fit to warn anyone,” Ayling said.

Lawrence Grossberg, the interim director of graduate studies, said the public has consistently expressed the problems with Alert Carolina in general and during the three Campus Safety Commission listening sessions held this semester. 

“Alert Carolina is a system that does not work, and this is an important issue that needs to be addressed immediately,” Grossberg said.

The Campus Safety Commission should work to gather data from alert systems of other universities to implement a safer and more effective system at UNC, he said.

“We are all aware of the seriousness of this issue,” said Frank Baumgartner, a professor of political science. “It’s up to us to decide what the future systems will be, and we need to determine the specific problems and put very concrete proposals on the Chancellor’s desk.”

Baumgartner said the amount of sexual assaults that have occurred on UNC’s campus is concerning, and the Campus Safety Commission is taking the issue very seriously. 

Junior Dajah Stallings, majoring in exercise and sports science, said there needs to be an increase in consequences on perpetrators of sexual assault because survivors often don’t feel as if they can speak out. 

Brandon Washington, director of the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office, suggested the increase of Title IX training as a way to specifically target possible perpetrators.

“Due to the depth of emotional suffering that has gone on at this campus, we need to convey the difficult facts and feelings about these issues and allow the University leadership to apologize, recognize and make a plan to move forward,” Baumgartner said. 

Baumgartner said people are challenging the integrity and purpose of the commission, and they need to prove that the commission is necessary in order to spark positive change.

Robert L. Campbell, minister and former president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chapter of the NAACP, said the recent public doubt about the commission is due to the ongoing lack of communication.

“The majority of students have no idea what we are doing,” Campbell said. “There is a lack of reaching out to student organizations. We need to get more people involved and figure out what system to use in order to best relay messages.”

Kim Strom-Gottfried, director of the Office of Ethics Education and Policy Management and a professor in the School of Social Work, said she wants to make clear this committee’s integrity and fidelity to the trust that people have placed in it.

“We have to show the public that we are serious,” Baumgartner said.


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