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UNC found in violation of crime and safety reporting by U.S. Department of Education

old well file

Read the full story on the Clery Act Compliance Division's findings here.

The U.S. Department of Education concluded in August that UNC violated campus safety laws, including by providing inadequate systems for sexual violence victims, omitting dozens of serious crimes from annual reports, violating a federal non-retaliation provision and demonstrating a lack of administrative capability that “remains a matter of serious concern.”

The conclusions are stated in a final report sent to UNC by the department’s Clery Act Compliance Division. While the University received the report nearly three months ago, interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz shared it with the campus community in an email Monday evening, the same day The Daily Tar Heel and other publications reached out for comment on it.

"My entire leadership team and I are deeply committed to ensuring that our campus, as well as the surrounding areas, are safe for our students, faculty, staff and visitors," interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in the statement. "We will continue to invest in resources and training to ensure the University has the right tools and procedures to accurately prevent, respond to and report crimes, and issue timely notice of any known safety threats to the campus community."

The investigation began seven years ago and reviewed materials from 2009 to 2016 , stemming from a federal complaint filed by four UNC students and now-former administrator Melinda Manning.

That complaint also sparked an investigation by the department’s Office for Civil Rights, which identified “concerns and a violation” last year with UNC’s Title IX compliance. But with the Clery Act investigation’s larger scale and “significant” determinations, Clery Act expert S. Daniel Carter said, UNC now faces potentially substantial federal fines.

The final report was based on nine individual findings of UNC being out of compliance over the review period that were identified by the department in its initial February 2017 review report. Those findings were categorized as:

  • Lack of Administrative Capability
  • Failure to Properly Define the Campus/Clery Geography
  • Failure to Issue Timely Warnings
  • Failure to Properly Compile and Disclose Crime Statistics
  • Discrepancies between the Crime Statistics Included in the ASR and the Data Submitted to the Campus Safety and Security Data Analysis Cutting Tool
  • Failure to Collect Campus Crime Information from All Required Sources
  • Failure to Follow Institutional Policy in a Case of an Alleged Sex Offense
  • Failure to Disclose Accurate and Complete Disciplinary Referral Statistics - Failure to Retain Records Needed to Substantiate Clery Act Compliance
  • Failure to Include Required Information in the Annual Fire Safety Reports

The report sustained all except for one of these findings, the exception being the finding of “Failure to Disclose Accurate and Complete Disciplinary Referral Statistics - Failure to Retain Records Needed to Substantiate Clety Act Compliance.”

The Clery Act division’s review began with a campus visit in April 2013 with the aim of reviewing UNC's incident reports, arrest records, and student and employee disciplinary documents. The review was later expanded to review “the accuracy and completeness of the University's crime statistics through the end of calendar year 2015,” according to the report.

The review process then comprised years up to May this year of back-and-forth between the compliance division and UNC. The report noted that “despite the department's best efforts, it proved impossible to full (sic) reconcile (UNC’s) narrative response with most parts” of its file reviews.

The report also found that UNC’s issuance of Honor Court charges against former student Landen Gambill —  after she’d taken part in the complaint and spoken publicly about the University’s handling of her and others’ sexual violence reports  — constituted a violation of the Clery Act’s anti-retaliation provision.

“To read a letter by an impartial investigator that is this scathing, I think (it) sends a very clear message, and I really hope that readers take it as a call to action to continue to hold the University accountable,” said Andrea Pino, an alumna who took part in filing the initial complaint.

This a developing story. Check for updates.

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