UNC’s New Title IX Leader Talks On-Going Reforms To Sexual Assault Policies

CHAPEL HILL – In his first month as the UNC’s new Title IX Compliance Coordinator, Howard Kallem has taken on the challenge of heading up an expanding department charged with monitoring sexual harassment cases on campus.

This coming at a time when the pressure in on UNC leaders to make changes and reform current policies due to past controversy involving the handling of sexual assault cases.

Sexual assault on college campuses is currently an important topic of conversation, not only in Chapel Hill, but across our state and even in Washington D.C.

President Barack Obama recently announced the creation a national task force to combat sexual assault, particularly at the University level.

Prior to assuming the position at UNC in January, Kallem worked as Chief Regional Attorney of the District of Columbia Enforcement Office for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

“It has been an incredibly steep learning curve to understand all of the procedures and processes at the University and to just get a sense of the culture here,” Kallem said.

Howard Kallem, photo courtesy UNC

Howard Kallem, photo courtesy UNC

UNC’s Title IX Office is expanding in 2014 with Kallem and the most recent hire, Hilary Delbridge, the Title IX public communications specialist, coming on board.

Delbridge’s hire sparked criticism on campus. Andrea Pino, who co-filed a Title IX complaint in January 2013 criticizing UNC’s handling of sexual assault, told the Daily Tar Heel that it was merely a PR position. Pino suggested that the University needed to stop treating “scandals as scandals” and focus on fixing its problems internally.

Kallem said that the communications officer position is not a just a “PR job,” rather, he said Delbridge will serve as liaison to hear from the community about “what we [the office] are doing right and what we could be doing better.”

The Title IX Office is in the process of filling two additional positions—another case investigator and a program coordinator to help with training.

“I have to say that it is quite unusual for the University to devote this level of resources to this issue, which is why I took the job,” Kallem said. “Most colleges will have a Title IX coordinator. They are required to do so by Title IX law, but it is often someone who is an assistant athletic coach, or they might be in the human resources department, and it is the second or third responsibility for them.”

Since the spring of 2013, UNC’s Title IX Task Force has been working to address student-on-student sexual misconduct.

The 22-member task force is broadly based, including students, faculty, and staff members who specialize in this area.

Chair of the Task Force, Christi Hurt, served as interim Title IX Coordinator and is also director of the Carolina Women’s Center. Kallem, who has been to two Task Force meetings, said he is benefiting from the work that Hurt has done.

The Task Force is taking time to develop a complaint process that is tailored to the needs and concerns of the students, Kallem said, rather than to those of the administration.

“The goal is to come up with a policy that the community will be into. The way to do that is to have input from the various segments in building the policy from the very start,” he said. “I think all those have the building blocks certainly to develop a process here and change the culture here in a way that could be very interesting and unique in the country.”

Kallem said there has been frustration expressed on campus about the progress of the Task Force, with some members of the UNC community wanting to see results of its work sooner. Kallem explained that there are still issues that need to be addressed, such as the judication process of complaints.

Once the policy has been rewritten, it will be presented for campus community feedback and then will go before administration for final review.

Kallem did not have an anticipated completion date for the work of the Task Force.

“There are lots of pieces already here that are addressing the issue. My challenge is to knit them together into a comprehensive approach and identify any gaps where we can improve.”

The Task Force is also trying to ensure compliance with the UNC System’s statewide reforms.


UNC System Security Review Of Campus Safety Underway

CHAPEL HILL – The UNC System’s review of its security policies is underway this month. It’s a detailed evaluation of safety measures across the 17-campuses, including here in Chapel Hill.

NC State University Chancellor Randy Woodson and North Carolina A&T State University Chancellor Harold Martin are leading the UNC Campus Security Initiative.

Martin explains that the initiative which began on Oct. 1 was commissioned by UNC System President Tom Ross this past summer.

A report will be presented to Ross next spring based on the review’s findings.

“This process for us is to do an audit and an assessment of where we are and look for ways to enhance and strengthen our oversight of campus security,” Martin says.

Ross has focused on concerns which have surfaced system-wide regarding sexual assault and other violent crimes, campus security, and policies about the reporting of these crimes.

This review comes at a time when the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating UNC-Chapel Hill’s handling and reporting of sexual assaults.

In response to the federal investigation, then UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp brought in Gina Smith, a former prosecutor, in January of this year. She worked with members of the campus community to discuss how the University handles cases of sexual misconduct. A sexual assault policy task force was also created and charged with reviewing and enhancing the University’s policies and procedures on the issue. Their work is nearing completion.

“Any of the core recommendations that come out of Chapel Hill’s assessment will indeed make their way into our work, quite honestly and very appropriately so,” Martin says. “And if appropriate for system-wide discussions, it will be absolutely included.”

Over the next several months, Woodson explains that the Campus Security Initiative will bring together administrators, law enforcement personnel, faculty, and students from across the system to explore issues of campus safety.

“It’s a diverse group of individuals representing everything from our security officers to academic officers to people who work in student affairs so it is a great collection of people from across the entire system,” Woodson says.

The groups are focused on offenses against persons, campus public safety operations, and security reporting. Each will also examine the role of alcohol and drug use in those areas.

The groups have been charged with setting their own agenda and their own timeline and will be reporting back to Woodson and Martin periodically.

“This is really an attempt to make sure that we are benefiting from the knowledge gained from all of the campuses and ensuring that we monitor best practices and share those across the entire system,” Woodson says.

Randy Young, of the UNC Department of Public Safety, says campus law enforcement will be looking to the work done as part of the security review.

“This is something in the wake of a national trend. Some of these reviews come on the Heels of higher levels of scrutiny across the entire nation and in industry trends,” Young says.

Young says in the wake of the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, campuses, including Chapel Hill, have implemented regular training drills to simulate shootings and hostage situations.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory announced this spring his intention to focus on campus security in the State. Woodson says Ross has met with McCrory several times and will continue to coordinate efforts with the Governor’s initiatives.


UNC Sexual Assault Policy Reforms Underway

CHAPEL HILL – We should see concrete changes in UNC’s sexual assault policy by the end of this year, according to the University’s top leaders. After months of work by Carolina’s sexual assault policy task force, some improvements have already been implemented.

The group was charged with reviewing and enhancing the University’s policies and procedures on the issue. It’s a diverse, 22-member assemblage of students and leaders with in the Carolina community.

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt said she met with the sexual assault policy task force just last week.

“We will stay vigilant in this area, but it’s something that requires a community-side effort,” Folt said to the Board of Trustees. She added, “Nobody could be watching the news and not constantly be thinking about what we can do to ensure the safety of our communities. We have a lot of work. Just two days ago, we met with the Chief [McCraken] and went over those plans.”

Several changes outside the policy process have already been put into effect. In the coming months, faculty, staff and students will have access to online training concerning Title IX requirements, and there will be a campus-wide emphasis on preventing all forms of violence.

UNC Student Body President Christy Lambden has been working with the task force since its creation.

“We must start to implement increased training around this issue for all members of our community,” Lambden said.

Lambden and members of the Student Government began work this spring on a new Smartphone app that will allow members of the university community to report incidents of sexual violence.

“We as a community must undergo a shift in the culture surrounding this issue on our campus,” Lambden said. “We must support those who have been assaulted and continue to educate our community about how to prevent sexual assault from occurring.”

Carolina’s emphasis on improving its sexual assault policy began after Landen Gambill told the UNC Honor Court in the spring of 2012 that she was repeatedly assaulted by her ex-boyfriend. She then filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights against the University. Gambill and four others claimed that Carolina acted with insensitivity and carelessness when handling these cases.

As of the summer of 2012, sexual assault cases have been removed from the Honor Court’s jurisdiction.

In the wake of the Federal Investigation, then UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp brought in Gina Smith, a former prosecutor, in January of this year. She worked with members of the campus community, including the sexual assault task force, to discuss how the University handles cases of sexual misconduct.

Winston Crisp, UNC’s Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, has been monitoring the work of the task force. He told a Board of Trustees committee that they can expect clearer policy language about the reporting of sexual misconduct. Specifically, a more concise definition of what sexual assault is.

“Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen almost a revolution across the country, particularly around the processes we use and how we execute the process so that it is more humane and pays more attention to the feelings and the emotions,” Crisp said.


New Task Force To Tackle UNC Sexual Assault Issues

CHAPEL HILL – The on-going federal investigation around UNC’s handling of sexual assault cases is far from over. But a new task force has been charged to review and enhance the university’s policies and procedures on the issue. It’s a diverse, 21-member compilation of students and leaders with in the Carolina community.

Christi Hurt, UNC’s new Interim Title IX Coordinator, will serve as the chair of the task force. She’s currently on leave as director of the Carolina Women’s Center.

“We’re going to really line-up the current policy with all of that feedback and federal regulations to create a product that works for the entire campus community,” Hurt said.

Click here to see UNC’s current policy.

Ann Penn, UNC’s Equal Opportunity/ ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Officer, appointed the task force. Members were selected based on their experience and/or research related to the complex issue. They’ll meet through out the summer.

UNC Student Body President, Christy Lambden, is a member. In preparation for the work to be done this summer, Lambden created an all-student task force that has met three times. They came-up with 27 recommendations that he’ll present to Hurt.

“Change is in the works and change is likely to happen over the summer; I am excited to be a part of it,” Lambden said.

Terri Phoenix, the Director of the UNC LGBTQ Centerhas done interpersonal primary prevention work for most of her career. She’ll bring expertise in national best-practice approaches to preventing sexual assaults.

“I think that I can bring a perspective that is really a tune to looking at all of the intersecting identities and communities that we have on campus as we think through the policies, the prevention, and the response planning,” Phoenix said.

The task force will follow guidance from the Office for Civil Rights and build on the recommendations of Gina Smith.

Smith is a former prosecutor whom Chancellor Holden Thorp recruited in January. Smith is helping the University sort through the sexual misconduct investigations. She’s working with more than a dozen universities, helping to open up dialogues about sexual assault.

In an earlier interview with WCHL, Smith said she sees her role as on opportunity to shift the University’s culture regarding the way sexual assault is viewed.

“Her feedback and the feedback she’s has collected from the people at UNC is going to be a tremendous influence on this policy,” Hurt said.

Hurt says the goal is to present recommendations to Penn at the end of the summer—but the work won’t end then.

“I expect us to be a living document figuring out what is working here for the community so there will be an unveiling in the fall, but we will continue to welcome feedback,” Hurt said.

Hurt invites the community to visit the Campus Conversation on Sexual Assault website over the summer—it will continue to be updated with the work of the task force.

Students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and others may submit ideas to the task force through the site’s virtual suggestion box.


Task Force Members

  • Christi Hurt (Chair), Interim Title IX Coordinator and currently on leave as Director, Carolina Women’s Center
  • K.E. Akin, graduate student
  • Kiran Bhardwaj, Graduate and Professional Student Federation President
  • Sarah-Kathryn Bryan, undergraduate student
  • Alice Dawson, Senior Assistant Dean, Academic Advising Program, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Jayne Grandes, Investigator, Equal Opportunity/ADA Office
  • George Hare, Deputy Chief, Department of Public Safety
  • Robert Joyce, Charles Edwin Hinsdale Professor of Public Law and Government, School of Government, and Chair, Student Grievance Committee
  • Christy Lambden, Student Body President
  • Rebecca Macy, L. Richardson Preyer Distinguished Chair for Strengthening Families, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor, School of Social Work
  • Sandra Martin, Professor of Maternal and Child Health and Associate Dean for Research, GillingsSchool of Global Public Health
  • Laurie Mesibov, Ombuds, University Ombuds Office, and Professor of Public Law and Government, School of Government
  • Allen O’Barr, Director, Counseling and Wellness Services
  • Terri Phoenix, Director, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Center
  • Robert Pleasants, Interpersonal Violence Prevention Coordinator, Campus Health Services
  •  Kelli Raker, Rape Prevention Coordinator, Dean of Students Office, Student Affairs
  • Ew Quimbaya-Winship, Deputy Title IX Coordinator/Student Complaint Coordinator, Student Affairs
  • Desiree Rieckenberg, Senior Associate Dean of Students, Dean of Students Office, Student Affairs
  • Kara Simmons, AssociateUniversity Counsel
  • Anna Sturkey, Undergraduate Student Attorney General, Student Government’s representative, Committee on Student Conduct, and a member of the Sexual Assault Policy Response Team
  • Amy Tiemann, community member and a Chapel Hill author and educator focused on issues of parenting, child safety, politics and culture.

Serving ex-officio are:

  • Ann Penn (Ex Officio), Director, Equal Opportunity / ADA Office,
  • Winston Crisp (Ex Officio), Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.