Education

UNC system considers changing how campus sex assault cases handled

Posted May 8, 2014 2:54 p.m. EDT
Updated May 8, 2014 5:14 p.m. EDT

— Students would no longer be part of university panels handling campus sexual misconduct allegations under a proposal being considered by University of North Carolina system officials.

The push for specially trained investigators to look into such cases is among 34 recommendations by a group tasked with upgrading security on the system's 16 university campuses.

UNC-Chapel Hill is under federal investigation for how administrators handle sexual assault cases on campus. The investigation by the U.S. Education Department's Office of Civil Rights was launched after five women alleged the school under-reported assault cases and created a hostile environment for students reporting sexual assaults.

Because sex assault, dating violence and stalking are considered violations of student codes of conduct at UNC campuses, some schools refer the matters to panels that include students – some are even run by students – for adjudication. The Campus Security Initiative draft report suggests that UNC adopt a systemwide sexual assault policy that complies with applicable federal regulations and set guidelines for the training and skills those investigating cases must have.”

Other recommendations included providing more training for campus police in terms of responding to sex assault cases and designating one person on each campus to handle the annual reporting of campus crime as required under the federal Clery Act.

The draft report, which still must be reviewed by UNC President Tom Ross, also calls for more resources to battle alcohol and substance abuse on campuses and to raise the salaries of campus police officers to the levels offered by other law enforcement agencies.