Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
In March, we commissioned an independent, outside review following public allegations that the University retaliated by bringing an Honor Court charge against a student based on statements made about our response to sexual assault incidents and issues on campus.
We want to share new information with you about the results of this inquiry.
The review — conducted by Barbara Lee, a nationally recognized expert in handling sexual harassment grievances and a human resource management professor at Rutgers University — found no evidence that the University retaliated against the student.
This has been a difficult situation for the students involved, and it has led to me to carefully reexamine two issues: (1) how we can continue to protect our students’ right to free speech, and (2) the Honor Code provision dealing with disruptive or intimidating behavior that was the basis of the original charge.
This review brought into sharp focus concerns about this particular Honor Code provision. As a result, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp consulted with campus colleagues, including Richard Myers, the chair of the Committee on Student Conduct and a professor in our School of Law, and Faculty Chair Jan Boxill about this issue. Vice Chancellor Crisp recommended that no student should be charged with violating this section of the Honor Code until the Committee on Student Conduct can adequately evaluate the provision.
I agree with Vice Chancellor Crisp, and this change will take effect immediately. Honor System charges involving this provision of the Honor Code, including the case in question, will be dismissed.
This action is not a challenge to the important role of students in our Honor System, but is intended to protect the free speech rights of our students.
The Honor System is a Carolina tradition that dates back more than 100 years.
We are one of the last universities in the nation with a student-led Honor System, and our students have invested an impressive amount of effort in sustaining this tradition.
This situation has raised important issue that will deserve further discussion. While I will not be here to take part in those discussions, I am confident that all of you will work together to help develop solutions that work for the whole Carolina community.