CHAPEL HILL – Honor court charges against Landen Gambill have been dropped, according to a statement released by UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp on Thursday.
The sophomore was charged with breaking the honor code with disruptive and intimidating behavior. That charge was brought before the Honor Court by the man who Gambill accused of sexually assaulting her. He said the constant attention her case was getting by way of campus rallies and conversations caused him to be threatened even though she never publicly announced his name.
Gambill publicly announced that she believed the honor court charges were retaliation against her for constantly drawing attention to the way it handled her case. She said the honor court was underprepared and that students should not handle sexual assault charges.
UNC has since taken sexual assault review out of the control of the honor court.
An independent external review was conducted in March in regards to Gambill’s allegations of retaliation. Chancellor Thorp announced that the review conducted by Barbara Lee, a nationally recognized expert in handling sexual harassment grievances and a human resource management professor at Rutgers University — found no evidence that the University retaliated against the student.
However, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp—after consulting with campus colleagues, including Richard Myers, the chair of the Committee on Student Conduct and a professor in the School of Law, and Faculty Chair Jan Boxill about this issue—recommended no student should be charged with violating this section of the Honor Code until the Committee on Student Conduct can adequately evaluate the provision.
In his statement, Chancellor Thorp announced that he agreed and that the change was to take effect immediately.
He made it a point to announce that the decision of the University was not a challenge of the honor court and its processes, but instead a step to insure that all students are protected and treated fairly.
This ongoing issue comes at a time when colleges and universities nationally are dealing with the review of their sexual assault policies. UNC recently formed a special task force to review its current policies and form new ones. The 22-member panel meets every Wednesday and is chaired by the interim Title-IX coordinator, Christi Hurt. While the task force hopes to have a new policy in place in time for the start of the fall semester, it says it will take as much time that is needed to discuss the sensitive matter fully.
A Message From UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
In March, we commissioned an independent, outside review following public allegations that the University retaliated by bringing an Honor Court charge against a student based on statements made about our response to sexual assault incidents and issues on campus.
We want to share new information with you about the results of this inquiry.
The review — conducted by Barbara Lee, a nationally recognized expert in handling sexual harassment grievances and a human resource management professor at Rutgers University — found no evidence that the University retaliated against the student.
This has been a difficult situation for the students involved, and it has led to me to carefully reexamine two issues: (1) how we can continue to protect our students’ right to free speech, and (2) the Honor Code provision dealing with disruptive or intimidating behavior that was the basis of the original charge.
This review brought into sharp focus concerns about this particular Honor Code provision. As a result, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp consulted with campus colleagues, including Richard Myers, the chair of the Committee on Student Conduct and a professor in our School of Law, and Faculty Chair Jan Boxill about this issue. Vice Chancellor Crisp recommended that no student should be charged with violating this section of the Honor Code until the Committee on Student Conduct can adequately evaluate the provision.
I agree with Vice Chancellor Crisp, and this change will take effect immediately. Honor System charges involving this provision of the Honor Code, including the case in question, will be dismissed.
This action is not a challenge to the important role of students in our Honor System, but is intended to protect the free speech rights of our students.
The Honor System is a Carolina tradition that dates back more than 100 years.
We are one of the last universities in the nation with a student-led Honor System, and our students have invested an impressive amount of effort in sustaining this tradition.
This situation has raised important issue that will deserve further discussion. While I will not be here to take part in those discussions, I am confident that all of you will work together to help develop solutions that work for the whole Carolina community.
This email is sponsored by: Office of the Chancellor