Actions Taken

Sexual Assault Policy – Actions taken at UNC

  • Launched an extensive review a year ago of policies and procedures for addressing and responding to sexual assault allegations. (This review was prompted by the “Dear Colleague” letter issued 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.
  • Produced a revised Policy on Prohibited Harassment, Including Sexual Misconduct, and Discrimination (http://www.unc.edu/campus/policies/harassanddiscrim.pdf) that complies with the new federal guidelines and is fair and supportive to students.

The revised policy includes several important changes:

  • It lowers the burden of proof from “beyond a reasonable doubt” to “preponderance of the evidence.”
  • It provides equal appeal rights for both parties.
  • It provides a choice of two methods of resolution, formal and informal.
  • 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 for two new staff positions to improve UNC’s response to these cases:
    • Student Complaint Coordinator/Deputy Title IX Officer in Student Affairs, who will help students understand University policies and connect them to the resources they need.
    • Investigator in the Equal Opportunity/ADA Office, whose full-time job will be to handle cases involving student harassment, sexual misconduct and discrimination
  • 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.
  • Announced (Feb. 5) the hiring of Ew Quimbaya-Winship (EW) as the Deputy Title IX Officer/Student Complaint Coordinator.
  • 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 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 to share information, concerns and potential solutions.
  • Announced (March 4) hiring of Jayne Grandes as Investigator in the Equal Opportunity/ADA Office.
  • Brought Smith to campus March 6-8 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.

  • Responded to a request from the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) asking for information and data about campus responses to sexual assault and sexual violence cases.
  • Posted Campus Security Reports from 2000-2012 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.

  • Created a new position (April 16) for a full-time Title IX Coordinator, to be filled permanently after a national search. In the meantime, Christi Hurt, director of the Carolina Women’s Center, will serve in that position on an interim basis.
  • Formed a 21-member task force (May1) to review and enhance policies and procedures for handling student-on-student complaints of harassment, sexual misconduct or discrimination.

  • 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.
  • Hired Howard Kallem as full-time Title IX Coordinator and created two new Title IX positions,  one for student engagement and programming and an additional investigator.

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.
  • 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.
  • Conduct surveys to determine the cultural climate regarding sexual misconduct.
  • Explore ways to improve education and training about preventing and reporting sexual misconduct across the board – for students, faculty, staff and administrators.
  • Create a clear, practical guide to the process that is easily accessible and available.
  • Expand education about root causes of sexual misconduct – drugs, alcohol, hazing, etc.
  • Update parents and alumni and trustees on the policy and its implementation.
  • Respond to complaints received from the federal Office for Civil Rights.