Education

UNC-CH seeking changes to sex assault policies

Posted May 7, 2013
Updated May 8, 2013

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— As federal investigators examine how the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill handles sexual assault cases on campus, a university task force will be picking apart policies and procedures in hopes of improving its system.

Five women asked the U.S. Education Department's Office of Civil Rights to look into what they called an atmosphere of sexual violence at the school. Their complaint accuses UNC-Chapel Hill of under-reporting sexual assault cases for 2010 in an annual report to the federal government on campus crime and alleged that campus officials have created a hostile environment for students reporting sexual assault.

Student protests in recent months prompted Chancellor Holden Thorp to appoint a 21-member task force to study the issue. Christi Hurt, an alumna who directs the Carolina Women's Center and serves as the interim Title IX coordinator, heads the panel, which will meet for the first time next week.

"What we're trying to do is clarify different points of procedure (and) make them really transparent for students, so people can really make informed choices as they're figuring out how to proceed in the process," Hurt said Tuesday.

Student feedback will be critical to revamping policy, she said. Christi Hurt, UNC-Chapel Hill Task force head: UNC-CH system for sex assault cases not broken

"I don't feel like the system is broken," she said. "I feel like there's always more opportunity to daylight the critical places where people can intersect with the system and what that will look like before they start."

Andrea Pino, one of the women who filed the federal complaint, said she is pleased with the diversity of the 21 members on the task force and that UNC-Chapel Hill is tackling the issue.

"I think that our complaint and what we've been advocating has definitely challenged the university – that it's more than just compliance, that it's more about appropriate, corrective and timely action," Pino said. "I think we have a long way to go, but we're definitely taking the right step."

UNC-Chapel Hill has also hired Gina Smith, a former prosecutor and nationally recognized expert on sexual assault issues, to help the school strengthen its policies in such cases.

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  • ICTrue May 8, 2013

    "NCAA violations, academic and finacial fraud, State and Federal investigations. Maybe it's time to transfer the flag."
    mr clean

    The wheels are coming off another liberal institution. Everytihng that they do ends up in complete failure.

  • SaveEnergyMan May 8, 2013

    My question is this...are we talking about assualt cases that occur on campus or off campus? The media and those protesting have yet to make this important distinction. The on campus cases are handled by UNC police, reported to the feds via the Clery Act, and result in automatic explusion should they be convicted in court (plus jail time). No student conduct court needed.

    Off campus is a little more difficult. City/County police would handle those and the Clery Act may not apply - meaning no reporting is needed. Those convicted of violent crimes should be expelled due to campus safety (easy decision). Those suspected/accused (but not yet convicted) are innocent until proven guilty and are the problem. How do we protect students and still protect the rights of the accused? WRAL - please help by asking and reporting this important distinction.

  • mr clean May 8, 2013

    NCAA violations, academic and finacial fraud, State and Federal investigations. Maybe it's time to transfer the flag.

  • jayhurst May 7, 2013

    It is NOT commendable for UNC-CH to be "picking apart" practices only after the Feds have started picking apart UNC-CH. Are we really supposed to believe this would have happened without extreme pressure? It hadn't before the pressure . . .