It’s no secret that UNC has a long history of allowing, perpetuating, concealing and even protecting violence on campus. As a result, there is a gaping power dynamic between UNC as an institution and the expectations and demands it has of student survivors. This dynamic effectively punishes sexual assault survivors.
Many of the immediate violence-response resources a student survivor would need are scattered across various offices on campus, making them exceedingly difficult to find or navigate. None of the University’s violence-response resources are centralized under one office, forcing survivors to repeatedly talk about and relive highly traumatic events with an excessively large number of administrators or staff members.
Offices such as Carolina Women’s Center, Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office,Office of the Dean of Students and Counseling and Psychological Services all offer vastly different, yet necessary, resources for survivors — but require survivors to reach out to each office and manage communication with administrators from each. Furthermore, most of these spaces are made for white, straight, cisgender survivors, further alienating marginalized survivors who already experience violence and sexual assault at higher rates due to their race, sexuality or gender.
After the initial shock of a traumatic event, many survivors experience significant mental health effects, such as depression, PTSD or suicidal thoughts. For many, this can understandably lead to a drastic change in academic performance. However, there are very few academic resources specifically for survivors of assault at UNC.
UNC’s Gender Violence Service Coordinators can inform a survivor’s professors that they have been a victim of sexual or identity-based violence, but the support or understanding provided to a student after that is dependent on the professors themselves.