Actions Taken

Sexual Assault Policy – Actions taken at UNC

  • Launched an extensive review in 2012 of policies and procedures for addressing and responding to sexual assault allegations. (This review was prompted by the “Dear Colleague” letter issued in 2011 by the federal Office for Civil Rights about the responsibilities of all campuses under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.)
  • Gathered faculty, staff and student representatives to discuss recommendations for improving UNC’s policy, based on that review.
  • Removed jurisdiction for sexual assault cases from the student-led Honor System.
  • Adopted a revised process for adjudicating student reports of discrimination, harassment and sexual assault involving other students.  This process, set forth in the Policy on Prohibited Harassment, Including Sexual Misconduct, and Discrimination (http://www.unc.edu/campus/policies/harassanddiscrim.pdf), provides two methods of resolution, formal and informal.  The process also includes important changes mandated by the Dear Colleague Letter:  (1) it lowers the burden of proof from “beyond a reasonable doubt” to “preponderance of the evidence,” and (2) it provides equal appeal rights for both parties.
  • Compiled a central inventory of resources available to help students who have experienced interpersonal violence at http://safe.unc.edu/resources/, along with additional information through the UNC Student Wellness Office.
  • Expanded the role of the Ombuds Office so that it is now available to help students identify and evaluate options for dealing with difficult situations.
  • Created and recruited several new staff positions to improve UNC’s response to these cases, including a Title IX Compliance Coordinator.
  • Contacted administrators at other universities dealing with similar issues to seek advice.
  • Sought input from an outside expert to review the revised policy and its implementation.
  • Contacted administrators at other universities dealing with similar issues to seek advice.
  • Retained Gina Maisto Smith, a former prosecutor, educator and consultant, to review the revised policy and its implementation.
  • Created a new website, campusconversation.web.unc.edu, to raise awareness of the policy and discussions about next steps.
  • Set up an electronic suggestion box on the site to allow direct feedback to the implementation team.
  • Brought Smith to campus Feb. 13-14, 2013 to get feedback about sexual misconduct and the response to it at Carolina from several student groups, including representatives from Project Dinah, Campus Y, SAFER Campaign, fraternities and sororities, Graduate and Professional Students Federation, Student Congress and Honor System Representatives.
  • Arranged for Smith to discuss sexual misconduct issues with administrators, faculty and staff.
  • Hosted an open forum for students with Smith and Chancellor Thorp Feb. 21, 2013 to share information, concerns and potential solutions.
  • Brought Smith to campus March 6-8, 2013 to meet with representatives from the Inter-Fraternity Council, graduate and professional students, student athletes, Panhellenic Council, resident advisors, housing staff and Student Government Executive Branch.
  • Provided information to the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) about campus responses to sexual assault and sexual violence cases.
  • Posted Campus Security Reports from 2000-2013 online.
  • Asked Honor System to suspend an Honor Court proceeding involving a student who has spoken out about sexual assault issues on campus.
  • Presented briefing by Smith to Board of Trustees at March 28 meeting.
  • Formed a task force (May 2013 – June 2014) to review and enhance policies and procedures for handling student-on-student reports of harassment, sexual misconduct or discrimination.  The task force worked toward making policy recommendations that incorporated evolving guidance and legislation, including Campus SaVE Act (Section 304 of The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013) and guidance released by the Office for Civil Rights in April 2014.
  • Held open forums for the campus community to interact with the candidates for Title IX Coordinator and to provide feedback as a part of the interview process.
  • Participated in an unprecedented discussion of University presidents on “Sexual Misconduct Among College Students” at the University of Virginia in February 2014.
  • Addressed the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault in February 2014.
  • Announced the adoption of a comprehensive revision to the University policy on sexual violence and discrimination, and the creation of a website containing information about the policy and University procedures.

Next steps:

  • Step up awareness and education to ensure that the entire college community knows the law, our policy and how to report or respond to reports of sexual assault.
  • Implement education and training programs about preventing and reporting sexual misconduct across the board – for students, faculty, staff and administrators.
  • Conduct assessments to determine the cultural climate regarding sexual misconduct.
  • Continue to work with the federal Office for Civil Rights regarding complaints filed with them.
  • Continue Smith’s engagement with the Carolina community to identify critical issues regarding sexual misconduct, its prevention and the response to it when it does occur.