After a four-year lawsuit and a petition to have its verdict reviewed, the case advocating the release of UNC’s records of sexual assault has come to a close.
The U.S. Supreme Court denied the University’s petition for writ of certiorari in the case DTH Media Corp. v. Folt on Jan. 11, 2021. This petition, filed on Sept. 28, 2020, requested the ruling for the records’ release be reviewed.
The records, released in August 2020, showed that just 15 students were found in violation of UNC's sexual assault policy since 2007.
Hugh Stevens, the lawyer who represented the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said the only way to change the result of the case now that the Supreme Court has denied the petition would be either for Congress to amend the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or for the N.C. General Assembly to amend the North Carolina Public Records Law.
He said under the current law, however, there is nothing the University can do.
“The one thing I’ve come to believe firmly is that universities, and I don’t mean just Chapel Hill, I think public universities certainly are almost singularly ill-equipped to deal with these kinds of cases,” Stevens said.
Erica Perel, general manager of The Daily Tar Heel, said the records pose the question of whether the Title IX process at UNC is fair and equitable to survivors.
“From a journalism standpoint, the information that is now public is not the full story,” Perel said. “It is really that it is more information than we’ve had in the past.”
Stevens said he believes accusations of lack of due process from students who file complaints and those who are complained about are almost inevitable.