Education

UNC-Chapel Hill implements new sex assault policy

Posted August 28

— Eighteen months after federal officials began investigating how sex assaults on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus are handled, university administrators on Thursday implemented a new policy for such cases.

"The adoption of this policy is a vital step in taking a wide-ranging approach to ensuring a safe and welcoming campus," Chancellor Carol Folt said in a statement.

The policy, which also addresses harassment and related misconduct, interpersonal violence and stalking, applies to all students and employees, Folt said, adding that all outstanding reports of sexual violence will immediately be handled using revised procedures.

Early last year, 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 accused 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 had created a hostile environment for students reporting sexual assault.

Subsequent student protests over campus sex assaults prompted then-Chancellor Holden Thorp to appoint a 21-member task force to study the issue.

"The task force thoughtfully examined every aspect of our institutional processes, from reporting, support and response, to investigation, adjudication and appeals," Folt said. "Even as the policy was being developed, campus groups were working together to significantly improve processes and streamline coordination."

UNC-Chapel Hill also unveiled a website that details prohibited conduct, including stalking gender-based harassment, provides resources for victims and outlines the adjudication process.

A UNC system security initiative recently adopted a recommendation to remove students from grievance panels that hear sex assault cases and have only trained personnel handle the cases.

Folt said UNC-Chapel Hill officials would continue to review the policy for any needed changes and will soon provide online training to students, faculty and staff about the policy.

13 Comments

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  • matt_wood Aug 29, 1:21 p.m.

    Parents, this must be reassuring for your daughters that attend.

    — Posted by LetsBeFair

    But anyone with sons should be pretty worried.
    From their site:
    "Consent is not to be inferred... View More

    — Posted by bill0

    I can see why they would define it as such (protecting those who may be drugged or passed out), but it does seem to provide a means to abuse the policy.

  • bill0 Aug 29, 12:59 p.m.

    Parents, this must be reassuring for your daughters that attend.

    — Posted by LetsBeFair

    But anyone with sons should be pretty worried.
    From their site:
    "Consent is not to be inferred from silence, passivity, or a lack of resistance, and relying on non-verbal communication alone may result in a violation of this Policy. .......There is no requirement that an individual verbally or physically resist unwelcome Sexual Contact for there to be a violation of this Policy."

    I would guess about 99% of encounters rely on only "non-verbal" communication to tell if someone is interested.

  • Objective Scientist Aug 29, 9:20 a.m.

    Assault is ASSAULT - sexual or otherwise - and no where in the USA (that I know of) is it anything other than a CRIME! I attended UNC several times as I pursued a variety of degrees... over a time span of about a decade... and several decades ago. From the day I entered as a freshman, through all my years as a student, then as an alumnus to today... I never understood why the University - and often only students - adjudicated some of the things they did... especially things that were, in actuality - CRIMES! It NEVER made any sense to me for 18-22 year old students to investigate, and reach a judgment on something like sexual assault! If it is a crime on the Franklin Street side of that rock wall, it is also a crime on the campus side. What will be the effect of this new policy on sexual assaults involving UNC folks? Is it an "over-cooked, over-thought" policy... or is it something that will actually work in a practical, everyday setting? Only time will tell....

  • dlnorri Aug 29, 8:36 a.m.

    This is a law school correct??? It appears that Rape is a "prohibited conduct" under these rules. They sure want to protect those rich frat geeks from 'The Law". In most places Rape is a felony that gets hard time. They have improved their stance by adding the local law enforcement phone numbers along with campus police, just in case someone wants to call and report "prohibited conduct".

  • dirtydozen431 Aug 29, 8:31 a.m.

    Don't ask don't tell. Just try to get crime stats from UNC.

  • ASU Aug 28, 4:51 p.m.

    The SBI should investigate every sexual assault case on any UNC campus.

  • LetsBeFair Aug 28, 4:49 p.m.

    Parents, this must be reassuring for your daughters that attend.

  • LetsBeFair Aug 28, 4:46 p.m.

    how about, call the police?

  • The Anti Hans Aug 28, 3:52 p.m.

    "have only trained personnel handle the cases"

    Here's an idea: remove ALL personnel from handling... View More

    — Posted by matt_wood

    Here's another +1 for this common-sense suggestion.

  • eyepeefreelee Aug 28, 3:51 p.m.

    But seriously, having students adjudicate sexual assault cases was absolutely insane. Who would dare come forward if their assailant's frat brother happened to be on the panel?

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