UNC released its new comprehensive policy addressing sexual assault Thursday, a process more than a year in the making.
According to a release from the University, the policy creates a streamlined process that defined prohibited behavior and clears up the way in which students can get support if they believe they are victimized. The policy also deals with discrimination, harassment, interpersonal violence, and stalking.
UNC Chancellor Carol Folt says the policy takes effect immediately.
“I am very pleased with the announcement today, because I think we’ve adopted a significantly-improved policy on sexual violence and discrimination,” Chancellor Folt says. “I think it’s going to make a great, positive change.”
UNC created a 22-member sexual assault task force in the spring of 2013 with the goal of creating the new sexual assault policy. The members were selected from a variety of different areas on camps: the student body, faculty, and staff members who specialize in this area.
Chancellor Folt says the variety of people involved is what makes the policy so strong.
“They didn’t all agree on everything the day they walked in that door,” Chancellor Folt says. “They took a deep dive on every single issue, and they worked it through to find a solution that I think we’re all very proud of.”
Director of the Carolina Women’s Center, Christi Hurt was selected to chair the group. When the group’s monthly meetings began more than a year ago, she was serving as the interim title IX coordinator—appointed by then-chancellor Holden Thorp—while a search committee looked for someone to fill the position on a permanent basis.
On January 1, Howard Kallem was hired as the University’s Title IX Compliance Coordinator. Hurt has continued to chair the sexual assault task force.
She says she too is very proud that all the members of the group were able to put their concerns on the table and work together to find a solution. But she says the work doesn’t stop there.
“We’ve really embedded in the policy its own commitment to being evaluated, for revision, and to having an advisory group really govern the ever-moving pieces of this so that they’re looking at that evaluation on a real-time basis so we can change the process as we need to based on whatever evaluation data we’re examining moving forward,” Hurt says.
Multiple complaints were made against the University, including formal ones to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. The case that drew the most attention was that of the UNC student, Landen Gambill, who accused her ex-boyfriend of verbally and physically sexually assaulting her in the spring of 2012. The case was heard by the UNC Honor Court.
The accused was found not guilty of rape, but guilty of verbal harassment. Until the announcement of the sexual assault task force, Gambill was often seen leading rallies on campus demanding reform of UNC’s sexual assault policy.
One of the major concern of Gambill and others was that the student-led—and faculty-advised—honor court should not be in charge of ruling on sexual assault cases due to their sensitive nature.
UNC News Services Director Karen Moon confirmed Gambill is enrolled as a full-time student and is listed as a junior this semester. She’s listed as studying Women’s and Gender Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences.
UNC’s release outlined key issues the policy addresses including an easier way for the campus community to access confidential support and additional help in reporting and responding to the situation. It also says the definition of prohibited actions are better defined.
A new website was created to help everyone better understand the new policy. Click here to access it.