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Students Speak Out Against Honor Court Charges On UNC Sophomore

By Tim Carnes Posted February 27, 2013 at 3:40 pm
CHAPEL HILL – Students hanging out in “The Pit” on UNC’s campus Wednesday reacted with disappointment and shock at Landen Gambill being charged with the Honor Court infraction of engaging in disruptive or intimidating behavior.

Funmi Solar, a graduating senior who knows Gambill personally, notes that the charges bring the silencing and alienation of those who are oppressed on campus into the public eye.

She mentions that this victim-blaming system will leave a scar on UNC’s reputation.

“It’s just really sad—I’m a graduating senior this semester—to know that when I say UNC, people are going to say ‘Oh, the school that a woman got sexually assaulted in and now she’s getting punished for it’,” Solar says.

Solar says that Gambill’s case shows the misogyny that occurs within rape culture.

“Because it’s such a high crime against women, it’s kind of victim-blaming, and that comes from misogyny,” Solar says. “Because if I say I was robbed, I don’t think that people would not believe me. But if I said that I was raped, people would question what I was doing wrong.”

On a similar note, senior Katie Womble mentioned that the Honor Court case could discourage other assault victims from speaking out.

“It shows a lot of factors that you would see at other colleges across the country: that even if there’s some basis for investigating whatever Gambill did, it’s going to do far more damage than good in the long-run for other women on the campus,” Womble says.

Matt Poland, a master’s student at UNC, is also frustrated at the Honor Court’s decision to charge Gambill. He is sickened by the thought of Gambill’s potential punishment:

“If she is expelled, then she has been expelled from a public university essentially for being raped and not being quiet about it,” Poland says.

The Honor Court is run by members of the Student Body, and there is a faculty advisory committee if necessary. However, according to UNC spokesperson Karen Moon, the decision to charge Gambill is entirely up to the Student Attorneys General. So, when asked what the university could do to prevent another public controversy like this, the students answered as follows:

“I think [through] training, being culturally competent, and understanding that we live in a society where we’re bringing our biases to the Honor Court—I think it’s impossible to be 100% impartial,” Solar said. “But you have to confront the systems of oppression.”

“I still don’t know how much I think that the administration should intervene, other than maybe through back-channels putting pressure on the Honor Court to not make such a ludicrous, sexist miscarriage of justice,” Poland said.

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