April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April 2, 2014

Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM 2014) is an annual collaborative effort coordinated by the Carolina Women’s Center and Student Wellness. Throughout the month of April, organizations including Project Dinah, SWAG, Siren, Sigma Phi, the UNC Men’s Project, Celebration of Black Womanhood, the Orange County Rape Crisis Center, and more organize a number of events aimed at spreading awareness to end sex- and gender-based violence.

SAAM 2014 will feature film screenings, workshops, trainings, speakers, and other interactive community opportunities for the UNC community to show support and speak out against sexual assault.

The entire event schedule is available at http://saam.web.unc.edu/2014-saam-event-schedule/

More information may also be found at https://www.facebook.com/pages/UNC-Sexual-Assault-Awareness-Month/506214412770485

 

This message is sponsored by: Student Wellness

Students examine gender roles to prevent violence

What does it mean to be a man?

It’s a question that has been on Jordan Hale’s mind for years. As a kid, he didn’t have many male role models – the people who made a positive impact on his life were mostly women, as most of his close friends are now. Read more

Title IX Concerns presented to Vice President Biden by Katie Akin

AkinVP

When Katie Akin talks, Vice President Joe Biden listens. That’s because Akin – a graduate student member of the UNC Title IX Task Force – was invited to sit at the table next to the vice president on Tuesday (Feb. 18) at the first “listening session” of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, formed by President Obama in January.

And she gave him an earful. “I told him that the listening sessions were a welcome approach, but that law makers needed to institute ongoing feedback from survivors, their allies, and people working directly with Title IX if they really want to make any difference,” she said. “I also said that the federal government should demonstrate that they are serious about this work by funding programs that support Title IX and empower survivors.”

Akin’s five recommendations urged government transparency, sensitivity and humility in Title IX-related issues:

1.     Support public discussions of the institutionalization of sexual and gender-based forms of harassment, discrimination and violence, no matter how difficult.
2.     Guide colleges on how to interpret and implement federal Title IX policies.
3.     Increase funding for educational programs and trainings to prevent sexual and gender-based harassment, discrimination and violence on campuses
4.     Revise the language used in Title IX policies to reflect equal respect for all people who may be involved
5.   Realize that no one can assume that they know how to ensure ‘justice’ for reporting parties under Title IX.

Then, just to be sure she had gotten all her points across, Akin handed Biden a print version of her six-page response, 2014-2-14 Title IX concerns for federal task force. “I knew this was a unique opportunity in my life,” she said.

Akin was selected by Christi Hurt, task force chair, when Monika Johnson-Hostler — executive director of the NC Coalition Against Sexual Assault and president of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence — asked Hurt for a student representative.

“I asked Katie to go because she has been an outstanding member of the Task Force who is deeply dedicated to bringing students voices forward into our process,” Hurt said. “She is ever-mindful of the constellation of dynamics that surround sexual assault victimization.  She is keenly aware of how many challenges we all face in creating a community dedicated to sexual violence prevention and in building systems and services that serve all survivors.”

Akin and Tenika Neely of North Carolina Central University, who flew to Washington together for the event, were two of the 13 students from schools in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, California, Boston and Washington, D.C., invited to speak.

Because she was seated on Biden’s left, Akin spoke first, after a little basketball chatter with the veep.  “I think he was trying to be conversational to start off,” she said. “He said he liked UNC as long as they don’t beat Syracuse.” Each student or activist at the table got a turn to share his or her thoughts, and what was supposed to be an hour-long meeting stretched to two hours. Biden had to leave after the first 60 minutes to stay on schedule, but other White House staff members remained.

“It’s good that Vice President Biden cares about these issues,” Akin said, “but there’s a very large generational gap between him and students or even the people who are on our Title IX Task Force.” She said Biden was “friendly, but also paternalistic.” It was strange, she observed, to talk about how we might change “normalized histories and cultures gender-based and sexual violence” while sitting next to “the embodiment of patriarchy” around a massive wooden table in the “grandiose Colonial style” of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Ashley Ward, the professor that Akin works for as a teaching assistant, and Banu Gokariksel and Elizabeth Olson, her academic advisers in the geography department, have been supportive of the work she has put into helping to craft a new sexual misconduct policy for students. The attention the White House is paying to the issue is also “an affirmation of the ongoing work,” Akin said.

 

 

 

Title IX Task Force agrees on panels without students

Dec. 17, 2013

At the end of their last meeting of 2013, Title IX Task Force members took two key votes on how student sexual misconduct cases should be decided in the future. They approved adjudication panels, as opposed to individual judges, and they agreed that these panels shouldn’t include students as members.

“I don’t think students should be involved in the adjudicative process,” Christy Lambden, student body president, said at the Nov. 18 meeting. The other student representatives on the 22-member task force supported the decision, which grew out of discussions for the need for panel members with expertise and training in issues particular to sexual misconduct. Students should be involved in other parts of the process, though, task force members agreed.

Task force members favored a small panel to decide the cases, with panelists drawn from a pool of highly qualified participants, perhaps shared among area universities, as Chair Christi Hurt suggested.

The discussion leading up to those two votes focused mostly on areas where there wasn’t as much consensus, as the task force members continued to struggle with balancing fairness with a speedy resolution process. Some expressed frustration with the requirement by the Office for Civil Rights in the federal Department of Education that these cases be resolved within 60 days.

“The guidance from OCR is that it is a guidepost, not a stopwatch,” said Gina Maisto Smith, the University’s legal consultant and Title IX expert, about the 60-day rule.

Other topics included remedy-based solutions, the role of attorneys in proceedings and how much weight the finding of the investigator should have. “I want to bullet-proof this policy,” said Amy Tiemann, community representative and a local author.

Task force members will continue the discussion next month at an all-day off-campus retreat.

Kallem named Title IX Compliance Coordinator

Howard Kallem has been appointed as the University’s new Title IX Compliance Coordinator, effective Jan. 2, 2014. A recognized expert in Title IX compliance, Kallem was selected to fill the position following a national search.

He is currently Chief Regional Attorney of the District of Columbia Enforcement Office for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). OCR is responsible for ensuring civil rights enforcement and compliance with Title IX as well as other federal nondiscrimination legislation. Kallem has more than 19 years of experience with OCR, as well as 14 years of experience with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

“This high level of Kallem-280-2301experience and expertise makes him the perfect person to head our Title IX compliance efforts,” said Brenda Malone, vice chancellor for human resources and interim Equal Opportunity/ADA director. Kallem will report to Malone until the director’s position is filled.

Kallem also has experience in higher education as a senior equal opportunity specialist at George Mason University. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Binghamton, and a law degree from Catholic University School of Law.

In his role at Carolina, Kallem will be responsible for coordinating the University’s compliance with statutory requirements under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. He will oversee campus-wide education, training and outreach around Title IX issues, and coordinate the University’s responses and investigations into Title IX complaints.

“This important area has Chancellor Folt’s full support,” Malone said. “She has made a commitment to further expand the resources available to support Title IX compliance by creating a new position that will focus on direct student engagement and programming, as well as an additional Title IX investigations position.”

Recruitment for these positions will begin in the near future, Malone said.

“Howard Kallem’s appointment, along with the addition of these new positions, will ensure that the University is well situated to provide a safe and responsive environment for our students and employees, and also play a leadership role in the ongoing conversation about Title IX compliance in higher education,” Malone added.

She thanked Christi Hurt for her service as interim Title IX Coordinator since April and her work leading the University’s Title IX Task Force. “Christi has brought her many skills and expertise to this work over the last several months, and Carolina is in a better place due to her efforts,” Malone said. Hurt will continue to serve as Interim Title IX Coordinator until Kallem’s arrival.

FORMAL NOTICE: Title IX Compliance Coordinator

Dear Carolina Community:

I am pleased to inform you that Howard Kallem has been appointed as the University’s new Title IX Compliance Coordinator, effective January 2, 2014. Howard was selected to fill this critically important position following a national search.

Howard is a recognized expert in Title IX compliance. He is currently Chief Regional Attorney of the District of Columbia Enforcement Office for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). OCR is responsible for ensuring civil rights enforcement and compliance with Title IX, as well as other federal nondiscrimination legislation. Howard has more than 19 years of experience with OCR, as well as 14 years of experience with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This high level of experience and expertise makes him the perfect person to head our Title IX compliance efforts. In addition, he has worked in higher education as a senior equal opportunity specialist at George Mason University. Howard has a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Binghamton, and a JD degree from Catholic University School of Law.

As Title IX Compliance Coordinator, Howard will be responsible for coordinating the University’s compliance with statutory requirements under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. He will oversee campus-wide education, training and outreach around Title IX issues, and coordinate the University’s responses and investigations into Title IX complaints. He will report to me in my role as Interim Equal Opportunity/ADA Director until that position is filled.

This important area has Chancellor Folt’s full support. She has made a commitment to further expand the resources available to support Title IX compliance by creating a new position that will focus on direct student engagement and programming, as well as an additional Title IX investigations position. These positions will be open for recruitment in the very near future.  Howard Kellam’s appointment, along with the addition of these new positions, will ensure that the University is well situated to provide a safe and responsive environment for our students and employees, and also play a leadership role in the ongoing conversation about Title IX compliance in higher education.

I want to thank Christi Hurt, who has served as Interim Title IX Coordinator since April, and has led the important work of the University’s Title IX Task Force. She has brought her many skills and expertise to this work over the past several months, and Carolina is in a better place due to her efforts. Christi will continue as Interim Title IX Coordinator until Howard’s arrival.

Please join me in welcoming Howard Kallem to campus in January.

Sincerely,

Brenda Richardson Malone

Vice Chancellor for Human Resources

Interim Equal Opportunity/ADA Director

 

This message is sponsored by: Equal Opportunity/ADA Office

A message from Student Body President Lambden

Campus email sent to all students, Sept. 4, 2013

In the last academic year, many students, faculty and staff expressed dissatisfaction with the University’s response to sexual harassment and misconduct. Over the last six months, the University has gathered feedback from the campus community to address those concerns. Based on that information, the University has taken a number of steps to implement changes across many areas of campus. Since taking office, I made it my first priority to work towards the overhaul of the campus response to sexual harassment and misconduct. Starting as early as May of this year, we convened a student committee to provide input into the review of the policy. During the summer, former Chancellor Holden Thorp charged a 22-member Task Force with the responsibility of providing recommendations for changes related to that policy. The Task Force, of which I am a member, has worked tirelessly on this issue and will present its recommendations to the Chancellor and the Chancellor’s cabinet upon completion of the Task Force’s work later this year.

In addition to the work of the Task Force, the University has implemented a number of other responsive changes. In the last six months, the number of University staff members fully dedicated to responding to issues of misconduct went from zero to three. Additionally, there has been a tremendous increase in the amount of training provided to response staff in a wide range of departments, and there will be a number of training opportunities available for students, staff, and faculty, both in-person and online. Many of you will take part in these trainings this fall. The University is also working to improve its web-based communications of ongoing efforts, resources and reporting options through an updated safe.unc.edu website and through the “Campus Conversation” website (http://campusconversation.web.unc.edu/).

We have witnessed a renewed commitment from the University to address the underlying causes of sexual assault, to increase awareness of this issue and to create a centralized system for clearly and consistently providing resources and reporting options. Everyone at UNC is committed to creating an environment where sexual assault, harassment and misconduct are not tolerated nor a part of our community.

I have confidence that the University has taken responsive steps to prevent sexual assault, support all students affected by sexual assault and to ensure a fair and impartial process that swiftly responds when sexual misconduct does occur. I know that there is still more work to do, and I am committed to continuing to engage students in the ongoing discussions, dialogue and debate about how the University can best serve the student population. If you have any questions or thoughts, please send me an e-mail at lambdenc@gmail.com.

Christy Lambden
Student Body President

Title IX Coordinator open forums

Updated Sept. 12, 2013

Revised Schedule for Title IX Coordinator Forums

FROM: Title IX Coordinator Search Committee

The Title IX Coordinator Open Forum that was scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 18, has been cancelled due to one of the candidates withdrawing from the process. The remaining open forum for this position will be held tomorrow, Friday, Sept. 13, from 3–4 p.m. in the FPG Student Union, room 3408. All students, staff and faculty are invited to attend.

Two finalists remain under consideration for this position. For more information on this position, visit http://equalopportunity-ada.unc.edu/title-ix/title-ix-coordinator-search/.

This message is sponsored by: Equal Opportunity/ADA Office

 

FROM: Title IX Coordinator Search Committee

The Title IX Coordinator reports to the Equal Opportunity/ADA/Title IX Officer with a dotted-line report to the Chancellor, and has primary responsibility for oversight of the University’s Title IX efforts. The Title IX Coordinator will assist the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in achieving its goals of providing an open, diverse and inclusive learning and working environment by monitoring the University’s compliance with Title IX regulations and requirements.

The search committee for the Title IX Coordinator position is pleased to announce that three candidates have accepted our invitation for campus interviews. The following open forums have been scheduled for a presentation and question and answer session. This is an opportunity for the campus community to interact with the candidates and provide feedback as a part of the interview process.

Ms. Crystal Coombes: Sept. 9, 2013, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m., FPG Student Union – Room 3408

Mr. Howard Kallem: Sept. 13, 2013, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m., FPG Student Union – Room 3408

Ms. Jayne Grandes: Sept. 18, 2013, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m., FPG Student Union – Room 3408

The topic for each forum will be “What are the biggest Title IX challenges colleges and universities face today and what best practices do you recommend for addressing these challenges? What strategies would you suggest for Title IX prevention and education on campus and what experience do you have with these initiatives?”

We hope you will join us and take the time to complete a short evaluation form after their visits. Your opinions will be invaluable to the committee members in preparing a report for the Interim Director of the Equal Opportunity/ADA Office.

The position description, cv/resumes and evaluation form for the selected candidates are available on the following website: http://equalopportunity-ada.unc.edu/title-ix/title-ix-coordinator-search/.

This message is sponsored by: Equal Opportunity/ADA Office

Hurt updates Employee Forum about work of task force

August 20, 2013

Sexual harassment and assault in the workplace has long been a concern among members of the Employee Forum.

In 2008, for example, the group passed a resolution in support of the University taking proactive steps to increase awareness about the issue. Read more

Title IX Task Force develops training, protocols campus-wide

August 20, 2013

The Title IX Task Force will continue to hammer out changes in the University’s harassment and discrimination policy this fall, but several changes outside the policy process have already been put into effect. Read more

 

INFORMATIONAL: SAVE THIS EMAIL (Important Title IX contact information)

Aug. 20, 2013

Greetings Carolina Community,

Welcome back to campus and to the start of the fall semester.  As we begin classes this week, we wanted to reinforce our message about our Title IX Team and available campus resources and reporting options for community members. We are committed to gender equity on campus; the elimination of harassment based on gender, gender identity, and gender expression; and the prevention of all forms of sexual misconduct.

I continue to serve as the Interim Title IX Coordinator for the campus, and in that role I have centralized oversight of the implementation of Title IX education, prevention, resources, support, and responses to sexual misconduct across the campus.  Ew Quimbaya-Winship is our Deputy Title IX Coordinator/Student Complaint Officer and provides critical connections to support and reporting options for students.  If you have a question or concern, he is the first person you should call.  He will make sure you receive the information you need.   Please feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns.  Our contact information is attached below for your reference.

To help create a safe community, we encourage everyone in our campus community to bring forward all allegations of discrimination, harassment, and sexual misconduct.  We will provide reporting parties with clarity about reporting options as well as a range of support options.  In an emergency, remember that you can reach the Department of Public Safety from any location on campus simply by calling 911.  The University will always respect the privacy of a student who comes forward and address each student’s concerns in a manner that is sensitive to individual needs and preferences and considers community safety.

Throughout the year, we will send email updates to the campus community to keep you informed about our policies, resources and prevention programs.

A list of campus and community resources can be found online at http://safe.unc.edu/resources/.

Additional information is also available at the Campus Conversation website, http://campusconversation.web.unc.edu/.

Wishing you a smooth start to a great year,

Christi

 

Christi Hurt

Interim Title IX Coordinator

(919) 966-6754

christihurt@unc.edu

 

Ew Quimbaya-Winship

Deputy Title IX Coordinator/Student Complaint Officer

(919)843-3878

eqw@unc.edu

 

This email is sponsored by: Equal Opportunity/ADA Office

Message from the Chancellor: Update on Outside Review of Retaliation Allegation

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.

Sincerely,

Holden

Task force on sexual assault policy starts summer job

Task force on sexual assault policy starts summer job

Twenty-two members of the Carolina community have taken on a summer job to improve the way the University responds to sexual misconduct. The new Title IX Task Force, led by interim Title IX Coordinator Christi Hurt, met for the first time May 15 at the Friday Center.

The task force, which will specifically address student-on-student sexual misconduct, will build on the work done by a previous committee that revised the University policy in 2012 in response to new guidelines issued by the federal Department of Education. The task force is broadly based, including students, faculty, staff members specializing in this area and a community representative.

Appointed by Ann Penn, the University’s Equal Opportunity/ADA officer, the task force will meet nearly every week throughout the summer and present their recommendations to Penn in August.

Gina Maisto Smith, the consultant hired by the University to coordinate this process, set the stage for the task force’s work by reviewing the rapidly changing landscape of sexual assault issues on college campuses. Factors such as the federal guidelines from the 2011 Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights “Dear Colleague” letter, the case of Jerry Sandusky at Penn State, the proliferation of social media and students who are speaking out about their experiences are bringing national attention to the topic, Smith said.

“You, UNC-Chapel Hill, are at the forefront of addressing this conversation,” she told the task force. “You are there and you are emerging as a national leader.”

The issue is further complicated, Smith said, by the very nature of college campuses. Not only do they have “perfect storm” conditions for the risk of sexual assault (young students coexisting in close proximity to each other, little or no adult supervision, access to alcohol and drugs, peer pressure, risk taking, etc.), but also campuses are ill-equipped to deal with the problem.

Administrators are not law enforcement officials, yet they have a federal obligation to investigate and respond to a category of sexual misconduct that would not be pursued by a prosecutor. They also have to balance a possible threat to campus safety and a complainant’s desire for confidentiality as well as federal regulations about reporting misconduct and keeping student information private.

“If they want confidentiality, then how can we proceed?” asked task force member Sandra Martin, professor of maternal and child health and associate dean for research at the Gillings School of Global Public Health.

“This is my response to that,” Smith said, turning around to bang her head against the wall.

Other task force members also expressed frustration, voicing a range of concerns: underreporting, the complexity of the process, confusion about the University’s role, the part certain campus groups play in the problem and how any process could be fair and balanced in the current environment.

Early in her presentation, Smith urged the task force to “embrace the tension” of the situation, and Hurt picked up on the theme two hours later at the meeting’s close.

“I see the tension as creative energy,” she told the group. “The points of difference mean we have the right people in the room.”

Task force reviews process for student complaints of harassment, sexual misconduct, discrimination

Task force reviews process for student complaints of harassment, sexual misconduct, discrimination

 Updated May 16, 2013, to include information about 22nd member of the task force.

The University has created a 22-member task force to review and enhance its policies and procedures for handling student-on-student complaints of harassment, sexual misconduct or discrimination.

Ann Penn, the University’s Equal Opportunity/ADA Officer, appointed the task force to review the current policy (http://campusconversation.web.unc.edu/policy/), which was revised in 2011-2012 in response to new guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to colleges and universities nationwide.

“We have assembled a talented group of students, faculty and staff to assist us in this effort,” Penn said. “The task force will follow guidance from the Office for Civil Rights and build on the recommendations of Gina Smith, a national expert on sexual assault issues who has been working with us to gather input and identify opportunities to improve our policy and procedures. Together, we will find the best solutions for Carolina.”

Christi Hurt, who was recently named Interim Title IX Coordinator and is on leave as director of the Carolina Women’s Center, will chair the task force. Other members are students, faculty, staff and a local expert who bring extensive experience or research expertise related to tackling the emotional and complex issues involving sexual assault.

“The input we’ve received from students and others will be invaluable as we move forward to improve our efforts to address violence, harassment and discrimination on campus,” Hurt said. “We will incorporate that feedback into our review of Carolina’s policy and processes.”

The task force will meet throughout the summer and present its recommendations to Penn.

Task Force Members

  • Christi Hurt (Chair), Interim Title IX Coordinator and currently on leave as Director, Carolina Women’s Center
  • K.E. Akin, graduate student
  • Kiran Bhardwaj, Graduate and Professional Student Federation President
  • Sarah-Kathryn Bryan, undergraduate student
  • Alice Dawson, Senior Assistant Dean, Academic Advising Program, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Jayne Grandes, Investigator, Equal Opportunity/ADA Office
  • George Hare, Deputy Chief, Department of Public Safety
  • Robert Joyce, Charles Edwin Hinsdale Professor of Public Law and Government, School of Government, and Chair, Student Grievance Committee
  • Christy Lambden, Student Body President
  • Rebecca Macy, L. Richardson Preyer Distinguished Chair for Strengthening Families, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor, School of Social Work
  • Sandra Martin, Professor of Maternal and Child Health and Associate Dean for Research, Gillings School of Global Public Health
  • Laurie Mesibov, Ombuds, University Ombuds Office, and Professor of Public Law and Government, School of Government
  • Allen O’Barr, Director, Counseling and Wellness Services
  • Terri Phoenix, Director, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Center
  • Robert Pleasants, Interpersonal Violence Prevention Coordinator, Campus Health Services
  • Kelli Raker, Rape Prevention Coordinator, Dean of Students Office, Student Affairs
  • Ew Quimbaya-Winship, Deputy Title IX Coordinator/Student Complaint Coordinator, Student Affairs
  • Desiree Rieckenberg, Senior Associate Dean of Students, Dean of Students Office, Student Affairs
  • Kara Simmons, Associate University Counsel
  • Anna Sturkey, Undergraduate Student Attorney General, Student Government’s representative, Committee on Student Conduct, and a member of the Sexual Assault Policy Response Team
  • Amy Tiemann, community member and a Chapel Hill author and educator focused on issues of parenting, child safety, politics and culture
  • Karen Booth, associate professor in the department of women’s and gender studies, College of Arts and Sciences

Serving ex-officio are:

  • Ann Penn (Ex Officio), Director, Equal Opportunity / ADA Office
  • Winston Crisp (Ex Officio), Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

During the task force’s work, the Campus Conversation about Sexual Assault website (http://campusconversation.web.unc.edu/) will continue to be updated. Students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and others may submit ideas to the task force through the site’s virtual suggestion box.

Chancellor Holden Thorp cited the task force announcement by Penn as one more strong indication of progress on this issue in a May 1 campus email  to students, faculty and staff. (Refer to https://campusconversation.web.unc.edu/2013/05/01/message-from-the-chancellor-update-on-campus-response-to-sexual-assaults/).

Chancellor Thorp Announces New Title IX Position

April 16, 2013

Message from Chancellor Thorp:  Announcement On New Title IX Coordinator Position

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

As we continue our campus conversation about the issue of sexual assault, I want to update you on the positive steps the University is taking to strengthen our policies and procedures and expand the resources available to students.

An important part of our work includes making sure we have a dedicated team in place to help us address the challenges that face Carolina — and all universities — regarding issues of sexual harassment, discrimination and violence.

With that in mind, we have created a new position for a full-time Title IX Coordinator, and we will begin a national search for a candidate to fill that role permanently. In the meantime, I am pleased to announce that Christi Hurt, director of the Carolina Women’s Center, has agreed to serve in that position on an interim basis.

Christi Hurt

Ms. Hurt is a Carolina alumna (B.A. ’93, M.P.A. ’98) who demonstrates a lifelong commitment to preventing sexual violence and supporting those who experience it. Her background includes work on the local, state and national level in nonprofit organizations that advocate for an end to gender violence. She is attuned to issues of diversity and inclusion and well positioned to steer Carolina’s efforts with a firm and steady hand that is sensitive to all members of our campus community. In this new role, she will lead our initial efforts to improve the campus climate, ensure we have effective resources in place for students, faculty and staff who are affected by sexual harassment, discrimination or violence, and implement policies and practices that are prompt, equitable and in compliance with federal mandates including Title IX. She will report to Ann Penn, the director of our Equal Opportunity/ADA Office, and have regular communication and “dotted line” reporting to the Office of the Chancellor.

Ms. Hurt will work closely with several Deputy Title IX Coordinators across campus. We previously announced the appointment of Ew Quimbaya-Winship as Deputy Title IX Coordinator in Student Affairs. (Ew also serves as the Student Complaint Coordinator). We expect to appoint additional Deputy Title IX Coordinators in areas such as Human Resources and Athletics. These individuals will be designated from existing University personnel and will serve as an important resource to help educate, train and support campus community members.

What is Title IX?

For those of you unfamiliar with Title IX, it is a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs and activities at most schools, colleges and universities. Title IX is commonly associated with the concept of gender equity in athletics – a goal that has supported the growth and strength of women’s athletics programs. In reality, Title IX is far broader in its scope and protections, including a prohibition on sexual harassment, sexual violence and all forms of sexual misconduct.

University Involvement in Sexual Violence Cases

Under Title IX, the University (and any college or university that receives federal funding) must have a process in place for responding to allegations of sexual discrimination, harassment or sexual violence. Placing these responsibilities under the auspices of an educational institution is a sensitive subject. Many people feel that complaints of sexual violence should be handled exclusively by the police.

Let me be clear:  Individuals are encouraged to report criminal behavior to local law enforcement.

However, even when local law enforcement is involved, universities are required to provide an alternative process for resolving complaints within our community. Our processes are designed to provide the affected individuals with more support and resources than they might find in the criminal justice system.

Looking Ahead

We continue to work diligently to make sure our policies, training, processes and resources are designed to best serve our students, faculty and staff. As part of that effort, we brought Gina Smith, a leading expert on sexual assault issues, to campus in February. Over the past two months, she has been a regular presence on our campus. Ms. Smith has met with numerous groups and individuals in an effort to seek feedback from a broad cross-section of our community. Your candid responses and willingness to openly engage in frank conversation on these difficult issues has framed her understanding – and in turn, our understanding – of our challenges, strengths and campus climate so that we may best assess, revise and improve the way we respond to these issues.

In the coming weeks, Ms. Penn will appoint a task force to review our policy and process for handling student-on-student complaints of sexual harassment or discrimination, including sexual misconduct. The task force will be chaired by Ms. Hurt and will include representatives from our students, faculty, staff and community.

The task force will begin meeting next month with a goal of finishing its review and presenting recommendations before the fall semester begins in August. I want to thank the future task force members in advance for the work and time commitment they will dedicate to this important issue for our campus community.

We will continue to promote and add to the information available on this issue at our Campus Conversation About Sexual Assault website, http://campusconversation.web.unc.edu/. I especially encourage you to review the key facts/frequently asked questions article featured in this link, http://campusconversation.web.unc.edu/faq/. It details University personnel and resources available to help students in all aspects of this issue. I also want to remind you about where to find the current University policy, http://campusconversation.web.unc.edu/policy/.

As the semester draws to a close, I want you to know that we remain laser focused on addressing these issues and doing everything we can to make Carolina a safe and welcoming place for you and everyone else who calls Carolina home.

Sincerely,

Holden

Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2013

INFORMATIONAL: Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2013

April 1, 2013

Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM 2013) kicks off on Monday, April 1st with The Clothesline Project at UNC.  This is a display that will be up in Polk Place and that consists of clotheslines strung across the quad with t-shirts designed by survivors of sexual violence used to help raise awareness about sexual violence and show support for survivors.

SAAM 2013 will also feature a number of events throughout April, including a benefit concert, film screenings, workshops and trainings, and Human Trafficking Awareness Week.    We can all make a difference when it comes to preventing sexual violence and creating a supportive community– please join us!  Also, consider becoming Haven, One Act, and/or Safe Zone trained!

See the entire SAAM event schedule at http://saam.web.unc.edu/2013-saam-event-schedule/.

 

 

 

“From the Dorm Room to the Boardroom: Sexual Misconduct Affects Everyone” (opinion-editorial column, The Daily Tar Heel, Published April 1, 2013)

From the Dorm Room to the Boardroom: Sexual Misconduct Affects Everyone

opinion-editorial column, The Daily Tar Heel, Published April 1, 2013

During the two months I have spent on the Carolina campus, I have been impressed with the cross-section of the community that has fully and openly engaged in conversation about the issues surrounding sexual misconduct. While these conversations are just a beginning, they bode well for meaningful change.

I have spent most of my career addressing the often silent – and always horrific – issues attendant to sexual misconduct. My travels have exposed me to a number of courageous people and communities, and the Carolina community is one of the most remarkable yet.

It is my hope that what we have learned from this process will be the foundation for healthy systems that serve the well being of the entire campus.

People often ask if sexual misconduct is a problem that is unique to colleges and universities. College campuses are a microcosm of what we see in society at large.  These communities struggle with many of the same issues I observed as a sex crimes prosecutor and educator – barriers to reporting, complaints about investigations, victim-blaming, anemic support services, minimal advocacy, uninformed fact-finders and concerns about the fairness of the process.

To address these concerns in the educational setting, the US Department of Education asked every college and university in 2011 to review its policies and procedures regarding sexual misconduct and implement changes as needed. Policy, however, is only one element of the equation that will result in the hoped for change. We must also better understand the unique dynamics of sexual misconduct as well as the individual experience, culture, personnel, resources and needs of each campus. The challenge is to address these issues in a way that tends to needs of our students, faculty and staff.

Together, we can meet this challenge. We can engage the community, improve our understanding of these complex issues, and change the campus culture. That is Chancellor Thorp’s mission.

To date, we have provided safe places to come together as a community to voice concerns, share ideas and ask pointed questions.  These opportunities are designed to reach as many community members as possible and include open forums, individual meetings, anonymous options within group meetings, and an anonymous online suggestion box through the Campus Conversation website where we are tracking our efforts. (http://campusconversation.web.unc.edu/).  This effort continues to be open to all.

Since coming to Carolina, I have met with and heard from more than 1,000 individuals – including students, student leaders, faculty, staff, alumni and parents. It is evident in these conversations that this community cares deeply about student welfare, and I want to make sure that message is heard. I have read every suggestion you have made and carefully studied every policy and procedure.

I hear you, and your University hears you.

I told the Board of Trustees last week that the University still has work to do in four areas: policy, training, implementation and campus climate. In the coming weeks, I will share specific recommendations that emerged from your voices and my observations.  If we continue to engage fully we can achieve sensitive and informed support services and a fair and impartial process for all.

From the dorm room to the boardroom, the impact of sexual misconduct affects us all and requires our continued engagement to affect meaningful and lasting change.

(Gina Smith is a former prosecutor, educator and consultant who has guided several institutions and leads Carolina’s conversation to engage and educate the campus community about sexual assault.)

 

National Expert Guiding Campus Conversation Briefs Trustees on Sexual Assault

National Expert Guiding Campus Conversation Briefs Trustees on Sexual Assault

Cases of sexual assault and misconduct are not like other cases. They are grossly under-reported and usually there is significant lag time between when an incident occurs and when authorities are notified.

An estimated 30 percent of sexual assault and misconduct incidents are reported. That figure drops to 5 percent on a college campus with the reports coming, on average, 57 days later.

These statistics, which Gina Smith outlined in her presentation to the University’s Board of Trustees on March 28, help underscore the complexities of sexual assault cases – for everyone involved. Smith is a former prosecutor, educator and consultant who has guided several institutions and has been leading Carolina’s conversation to engage and educate the campus community about sexual assault.

“In my role here at UNC, I am one voice, and I hope in some way to change the conversation – not only here, but across the country,” she said.

The issues surrounding sexual assault are not unique to college campuses. What happens on campuses is a microcosm for what happens in broader society, she said. In addition to delayed reporting, other issues include the psychological impact following trauma, the common lack of physical evidence, cases in which the people know each other and cases that turn on word-against-word analysis.

What is different in the university setting, Smith said, is a requirement under Title IX to provide resources that ensure the safety and well-being of the person who brings forward the complaint, no matter what the facts are. Because sexual assault is a form of sexual harassment, it is covered under Title IX, she explained.

“The regulatory framework for colleges asks us to be all things to all people, to respond fairly to all sides,” Smith said. That’s because universities are better equipped to understand the nuances of these situations and deliver the necessary services.

Higher education institutions are required to provide an avenue for students to pursue sexual assault claims separate from the criminal justice system, Smith said. It’s up to the complainant to decide whether to pursue criminal charges in addition to, or instead of, pursuing cases through the university process.

The successful integration of the law and its requirements depends on what Smith called the 3-D labyrinth: a complex regulatory framework that is informed by federal, state and local laws; the unique dynamics of sexual misconduct, including an understanding that each case is as unique as the person who experienced it; and the distinct history and culture of each institution.

“If we ignore any one of these, we are out of sync in serving people’s well-being,” Smith said.

Bringing about a culture change requires education and engagement, she explained. And that’s why, when Chancellor Holden Thorp asked her to lead the conversation at Carolina, she agreed.

Going forward, Smith outlined four key areas.

Current Climate

Assessing the current climate by educating and engaging “all ports in the storm” will not only avoid gaps in understanding the processes for dealing with sexual assault and its dynamics, she said, it is the only way to provide support for the individuals involved.

“If we are not attending to the individuals in these cases as we should, we lose an opportunity for them to say, ‘The system supported me,’ rather than, ‘The system hurt me,’” Smith said.

Policy

The second factor is to examine the University’s policy. While Carolina’s policy is generally compliant with Title IX, Smith said, it should be tweaked to represent “the other end of the telescope” – from the lens of the end user instead of the institution. “We need to look at how we present the policy in terms of clarity, FAQs and flow charts of information.”

Education and Training

It is also important to train the entire campus community about what sexual violence is and how to recognize it and what the grievance policy outlines. This involves coordinating an understanding of the systems involved so the decision-making process rests in the hands of people who understand the issues and can provide guidance.

“We can’t play golf with a basketball,” she said in highlighting the importance of creating widespread understanding.

Implementation

The fourth area focuses on implementation and identifying the roles and responsibilities of people across campus who deal with issues of sexual misconduct. “This requires that we get around the table and understand how these laws impact each other so we can operate in a coordinated way,” Smith said.

The Carolina community has been tremendously engaged in the ongoing campus conversation, she told the trustees. Within the past few weeks, Smith has held several discussion groups as a way to provide information and solicit feedback.

“There has been equal effort from the top and the bottom, and everything in between – among students, faculty and staff,” Smith said. “There is a plethora of opportunity here.”

In addressing questions from the trustees, Smith emphasized the importance of education and training in making sure policy is implemented effectively. People must be prepared to act quickly when a person who has experienced sexual violence comes to them for help.

“These time frames are critical,” she said. “The way we respond out of the gate will forever affect the trajectory of one’s healing and of one’s ability to use our processes and enable us as an institution to allow our values to shine and to allow our systems to have integrity and credibility and be trusted.”

Education and training will not only help people know how to respond to sexual misconduct and assaults, but will also help prevent them, she said. The University also needs to address drug and alcohol abuse on campus, a “root cause” she said is involved in 80 percent to 90 percent of campus sexual assaults.

Surveys, meetings with students, and direct feedback from people involved in the process will indicate if and how attitudes are changing.

“The courage of this campus to face this head on in this way has created a lot of conversation,” she said, “and I think the conversation will become more informed and, over time, shift to something that is more proactive and prevention-focused.”

UNC to suspend Honor Court proceeding pending external review of retaliation claim

UNC News Release

March 26, 2013

UNC to suspend Honor Court proceeding pending external review of retaliation claim

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp today (March 26) announced that the student-led Honor System has been asked to suspend an Honor Court proceeding involving a student who has spoken out about sexual assault issues on campus.

In connection with that case, Thorp said campus officials understand that a claim of retaliation may be filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights against the University.

“For several weeks, the University has grappled with how best to respond to a public claim of retaliation against the University while maintaining the autonomy and integrity of our Honor Court proceedings and the privacy of the individuals involved,” Thorp wrote in an open letter

to students, faculty and staff.

“Recognizing the potential conflicts that may exist by allowing both processes to continue, we have asked the Student Attorney General to suspend the Honor Court proceeding pending an external review of these allegations of retaliation. The University takes all allegations of retaliation seriously, whether against an individual or an institution, and this allegation is no exception.”

Thorp also invoked the Carolina community’s long tradition of encouraging students to exercise their right to speak out. To read the chancellor’s campus message, refer to https://campusconversation.web.unc.edu/2013/03/26/message-from-the-chancellor032613/.

The University has made significant changes to its policies in recent years and brought in Gina Smith, a national expert on sexual assault issues, to help lead campus conversations to help further strengthen the University’s current response to sexual assault. Those discussions are ongoing.

The Office for Civil Rights has emphasized its role as a ‘neutral fact-finder’ engaged in collecting and analyzing evidence from the complainants, the University and other sources.

Thorp has called sexual assault one of the greatest challenges facing college campuses nationwide, including Carolina.

Related Links:

Campus Conversation on Sexual Assault website: http://campusconversation.web.unc.edu/

Key Facts, FAQ, Background on Sexual Assault Complaints, Reporting Options, Campus & Community Resources & the Honor System: http://tinyurl.com/dytox4x

UNC response to Office for Civil Rights request: http://tinyurl.com/bms7asd

University announces campus security program review

UNC News Release

March 22, 2013

University announces campus security program review

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp today (March 22) announced that the U.S. Department of Education’s Clery Act Compliance Division will conduct a program review to evaluate how the campus has complied with the federal law.

The University was notified of the program review, prompted by a Feb. 20, 2013 complaint, in a March 21 letter, posted at this link http://campusconversation.web.unc.edu/files/2013/03/UNC-Ann-Ltr.pdf.

“Protecting the safety and well being of our students is one of the University’s highest priorities,” Thorp said. “We expected this review, and will cooperate fully with the review team. We are committed to complying with the Clery Act and properly informing students and the campus community about criminal activity and safety threats. The review is an opportunity to make additional improvements if needed.”

The Jeanne Clery Dislosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act requires campuses participating in federal financial aid programs to maintain and disclose crime statistics and security information. (For additional background about the Department of Education’s review process, refer to http://studentaid.ed.gov/about/data-center/school/clery-act).

The Department of Education will review whether the University properly followed the Clery Act, including provisions involving disclosure of campus crime statistics, as well as policies and procedures regarding how campus sexual assaults were handled.

The program review, which will involve a campus visit next month, will evaluate allegations in the complaint and the University’s overall compliance with the Clery Act. When the review is complete, the Department of Education may inform the University about findings, recommendations or next steps. An official written report will come later.

Background:

http://campusconversation.web.unc.edu/, (Campus Conversation about Sexual Assault)

http://www.alertcarolina.unc.edu/go/doc/1395/1319331/ (Alert Carolina website, which includes the University’s emergency notification system)

http://www.dps.unc.edu/ (Department of Public Safety)

http://www.dps.unc.edu/securityreport/History.cfm (Campus Security Reports 2000 – 2012; annual reports are required to be posted online with three years of data under the Clery Act)

Contact:  Karen Moon, (919) 962-8595, karen_moon@unc.edu

University releases response to OCR seeking data, information

UNC News Release

March 22, 2013

University releases response to OCR seeking data, information

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill today (March 22) publicly released the response submitted March 21 to a request from the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) asking for information and data including campus responses to sexual assault and sexual violence cases.

The public record copy of the response is posted at this link, http://campusconversation.web.unc.edu/files/2013/03/University-Response-to-OCR-Complaint-No-11-13-2051.pdf.

The University previously announced receiving and posted the OCR’s March 1 letter at this link, http://campusconversation.web.unc.edu/2013/03/07/university-receives-notification-data-request-letter-from-ocr/

Following is the University’s statement about the response issued March 21 confirming that the response had been sent:

http://campusconversation.web.unc.edu/2013/03/21/university-responds-to-ocr-request-for-data-information/

March 21, 2013

University responds to OCR request for data, information

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill today (March 21) 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.

The University is cooperating fully and in good faith with the ongoing investigation. It’s important for the campus community and the public to know the Office for Civil Rights has emphasized its role during the investigation as a “neutral fact-finder” engaged in collecting and analyzing evidence from the complainants, the University and other sources.

The University will continue to respond to OCR requests for data and information, as the March 1 letter indicated should be expected.

Chancellor Holden Thorp has called sexual assault one of the greatest challenges facing campuses nationwide, including Carolina.

“We’re focused on the safety of our students, as well as faculty and staff, and have an obligation to do everything we can to provide the care and support they need if a sexual assault occurs,” he told the campus community in a March 8 email message.

The University has made significant changes to its policies and brought in Gina Smith, a national expert on sexual assault issues, to help lead campus conversations to help further strengthen the University’s current response to sexual assault.

Context about the University’s Current Campus Conversation about Sexual Assault:

See the University website devoted to this topic, http://campusconversation.web.unc.edu/

Go to http://campusconversation.web.unc.edu/2013/03/08/message-from-the-chancellor-continuing-the-campus-conversation-about-sexual-assault/ (Chancellor Holden Thorp’s March 8 email to students, faculty and staff)

Refer to http://campusconversation.web.unc.edu/in-the-news/ (Key Facts, FAQ, Background on Sexual Assault Complaints, Reporting Options, Campus & Community Resources & the Honor System)

Go to http://www.unc.edu/campus-updates/smith-leads-campus-conversation-about-sexual-assault/ (Q&A with Gina Smith, the national expert helping lead the campus conversation to help strengthen the University’s current response to sexual assault

Contact:  Karen Moon, (919) 962-8595, karen_moon@unc.edu

University responds to OCR request for data, information

UNC News Release

March 21, 2013

University responds to OCR request for data, information

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill today (March 21) 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.

The University is cooperating fully and in good faith with the ongoing investigation. It’s important for the campus community and the public to know the Office for Civil Rights has emphasized its role during the investigation as a “neutral fact-finder” engaged in collecting and analyzing evidence from the complainants, the University and other sources.

The University will continue to respond to OCR requests for data and information, as the March 1 letter indicated should be expected.

Chancellor Holden Thorp has called sexual assault one of the greatest challenges facing campuses nationwide, including Carolina.

“We’re focused on the safety of our students, as well as faculty and staff, and have an obligation to do everything we can to provide the care and support they need if a sexual assault occurs,” he told the campus community in a March 8 email message.

The University has made significant changes to its policies and brought in Gina Smith, a national expert on sexual assault issues, to help lead campus conversations to help further strengthen the University’s current response to sexual assault.

Context about the University’s Current Campus Conversation about Sexual Assault:

See the University website devoted to this topic, http://campusconversation.web.unc.edu/

Go to http://campusconversation.web.unc.edu/2013/03/08/message-from-the-chancellor-continuing-the-campus-conversation-about-sexual-assault/ (Chancellor Holden Thorp’s March 8 email to students, faculty and staff)

Refer to http://campusconversation.web.unc.edu/in-the-news/ (Key Facts, FAQ, Background on Sexual Assault Complaints, Reporting Options, Campus & Community Resources & the Honor System)

Go to http://www.unc.edu/campus-updates/smith-leads-campus-conversation-about-sexual-assault/ (Q&A with Gina Smith, the national expert helping lead the campus conversation to help strengthen the University’s current response to sexual assault

Contact:  Karen Moon, (919) 962-8595, karen_moon@unc.edu

Smith leads campus conversation about sexual assault to engage, educate University community

University Gazette

March 19, 2013

Smith leads campus conversation about sexual assault to engage, educate University community

Carolina’s ongoing conversation about sexual assault and how to improve the way it is addressed is reaching every corner of campus.   Because the issue affects the entire University community, developing a solution calls for engaging everyone on campus, said Gina Maisto Smith.

Last month Smith, a former prosecutor, educator and consultant who has guided several institutions including Amherst College, began leading a series of community meetings designed to engage and educate the campus community about sexual assault. She is soliciting feedback and ideas campus-wide as well as providing information.

The volatile issue of sexual assault is not unique to Carolina, she said. Colleges and universities across the country grapple with how to respond to sexual misconduct in a way that is prompt, equitable, thorough, reliable, impartial and supportive.

In higher education, sexual assault falls under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (banning sex-based discrimination), as directed by the U.S. Department of Education. Sexual harassment of students, including acts of sexual violence, is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX, Smith said, and a school has an obligation to investigate sexual harassment and violence, whether or not there is also a police investigation.

Title IX also requires a school to provide remedies to complainants, she said. This can include academic and housing accommodations, no-contact orders, counseling and support, and other measures designed to eliminate the harassment, prevent its recurrence and address its effects. In many instances, these services  surpass what is typically available in the criminal justice system.

“Unlike those in society at large, college students enjoy a federally mandated parallel process to the criminal option that will address their support needs, their academic needs, their counseling needs and their adjudicative process needs,” Smith said.

While Title IX may provide the legal framework, its requirements reflect societal values, she explained. “It isn’t just about complying with the law. It’s about how we tend to our students, faculty and staff to best serve them at a difficult time – to integrate the law with how we deliver our services to students,” Smith said.

Chancellor Holden Thorp has called sexual assault one of the greatest challenges facing campuses nation-wide, including Carolina.

“We’re focused on the safety of our students, as well as faculty and staff, and have an obligation to do everything we can to provide the care and support they need if a sexual assault occurs,” he told the campus community.

Smith spoke with the Gazette about this national issue and how she is helping Carolina leaders implement a process that is legally compliant and serves the well-being of the  campus community.

Why are colleges across the country grappling with sexual assault and harassment?

Every college and university struggles with this issue. Residential college and university administrators in particular deal with a challenging constellation of circumstances: young adults, social challenges, alcohol and drugs, and concentrated residential living with no parental oversight. This is exacerbated by a complex set of legal requirements and the unique, incendiary and often counter-intuitive dynamics of sexual misconduct.

In practical terms, colleges must investigate and respond to all allegations of sexual harassment and sexual violence, allegations that often involve word-against-word credibility assessments.  Schools must offer support and resources to all students involved in an allegation, provide a fair process to both  complainants and respondents, comply with federal privacy regulations and balance campus safety with a student’s individual right to choose how to proceed, including a request not to proceed or to maintain confidentiality.

Put simply, colleges and universities are charged with complying with a complicated legal framework, informed by a myriad of federal, state and local laws.  A successful University response is one that integrates the regulatory framework with the unique dynamics of sexual misconduct and the individual campus culture, history, climate, policies, personnel and resources.

What is the 2011 Dear Colleague letter?

In April 2011, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issued a “Dear Colleague” letter directing that every college and university receiving federal funds review its policies and procedures and implement changes as needed. It both provided a roadmap for schools to understand the nature of their Title IX responsibilities and showed a commitment to step up expectations and federal enforcement efforts.

The “Dear Colleague” letter was a call to action that reinforced the Department of Education’s commitment to Title IX. It laid out the specific Title IX requirements applicable to sexual violence and informed schools about how the department would evaluate whether they are in compliance.

Among other areas, that guidance included the responsibilities of the Title IX Coordinator and components of compliant responses, enforcement, grievance procedures, remedies, education, training and prevention efforts (see go.unc.edu/Cg4p8).

Is sexual misconduct unique to college campuses?

No, what we see in the college setting is a microcosm of what we see in broader society. The same issues that plague college students are the issues society at large struggles with: barriers to reporting, complaints about the thoroughness and competence of investigations, victim blaming, claims that the process is not fair and concerns that the support services do not honor the dignity a human being should be afforded in the aftermath of sexual violence.

We also know that sexual misconduct is grossly under-reported everywhere, so the reasonable inference is that a majority of the complainants remain silent and continue to live among us.

What can be done to address this?

We need to do a better job of recognizing and removing barriers to reporting so individuals who experience sexual misconduct can get the support and resources they need. That doesn’t always mean the case has to go to criminal law enforcement, and it doesn’t always mean it has to go to student discipline. It means we need to create an environment where students feel supported in getting the services they need and have access to resources and information to help make those difficult decisions.

The silver lining of the challenge presented by Title IX, the “Dear Colleague” letter and this conversation we’re having at Carolina is the elevation of the issue into public consciousness.  The discussions we are having on college campuses will benefit broader society. We are teaching the next generation of leaders to understand the impact of discrimination on the basis of sex. We are also demonstrating how to prevent, recognize and respond to the issue of sexual misconduct.

I believe this awareness will positively impact how human beings interact and will highlight the importance of treating every person with dignity and respect.

Is Carolina unusual in initiating a campus-wide conversation on the topic?

Yes. While the issues are not unique to Carolina, the response is. The cross-section of the UNC community that has freely engaged in this conversation is remarkable. Your chancellor, your faculty, your staff and your students (representing a wide variety of interests and groups on campus), have given their time to be a part of the discussion. UNC is one of the few campuses where I have seen this kind of an all-out coordinated effort to engage the community.

Students on all sides of the issue have shared their views with me and expressed their opinions. Your students are bright, introspective, tenacious and articulate! They are passionate about their beliefs and are earnestly engaged in this effort.

Although this is an issue that has traditionally been cordoned off as a women’s issue, I have seen a significant representation of young men and members of the LGBTQ community engaged in the conversation here at UNC. This issue affects everyone, and the engagement at UNC reflects that awareness.

Why is it important to bring everyone to the table?

The only way to shift the culture around this issue and improve understanding is by a coordinated engagement of the community. That is Chancellor Thorp’s goal.

It is evident that the University cares very deeply about student welfare and is listening with an earnest intent to support students and assess how best to serve them. I want to give people a safe place to be heard and an open forum to speak.

The conversations provide valuable information about the current state of the campus community’s understanding of and concerns about the University’s response to sexual misconduct on campus. With this information, I can tailor responsive recommendations for coordinating and implementing policy that is not only compliant, but that also compassionately serves the campus community.

How can people express their views?

In addition to the open sessions, there is a suggestion box on the Campus Conversation website (campusconversation.web.unc.edu/) where anyone can submit an anonymous idea, concern or suggestion.

In our group conversations, we have distributed index cards and asked people to list their priority, concern, issue or worry as well as their best idea for changing the culture. We want to tap into the creativity of our students, faculty and staff and get the fingerprints of the community on this effort; that engagement will give our efforts more traction.

What outcome do you want for Carolina?

A campus perception about the University’s response to sexual misconduct that matches realistically effective and supportive systems focusing on student well-being. The key objective is student well-being. Chancellor Thorp has said this, and every level of the administration has echoed it.

Through these conversations, I hope to provide a measurable change in increased awareness about the issue of sexual misconduct in the campus setting. It is my goal to bring clarity and fluency to the campus community about what sexual harassment is, how we can identify it, what we can do if we experience it or observe it, how it affects all of us, what support and reporting options are available and how to  prevent it.

It is also my goal to help the University develop seamless systems to implement a supportive and fair institutional response to sexual misconduct.

What options do students who experience sexual assault have?

A student who has experienced sexual assault has the right to a prompt and equitable resolution of a complaint by the University. That includes access to resources and support options, a fair and impartial investigation, resolution by a trained adjudicative body and any appropriate interim measures to protect the complainant and assist in maximizing educational opportunities.

A complainant has the right to balanced support, equal access to documents and information, and notice of the outcome or resolution.

The person may choose whether or not to seek law enforcement action in the criminal justice system. If so, the school will assist in notifying law enforcement and will cooperate in a criminal investigation. It is the complainant’s choice, however, whether to take that route. There is no requirement that a sexual assault complaint in the university setting be sent to law enforcement.

Who oversees this process?

Every school is required to have a Title IX Coordinator who oversees the school’s response to complaints of sexual harassment or violence. At Carolina, the Title IX Coordinator is supported by a Deputy Title IX Coordinator and a dedicated Title IX Investigator. Ew Quimbaya-Winship is the Deputy Title IX Officer/Student Complaint Coordinator, and Jayne Grandes is the Title IX Investigator in the Equal Opportunity/ADA Office.

Ew is available to meet with students, assist in accessing resources and support, implement interim remedies and provide information about procedural options.

Any final thoughts?

Compliant policy alone is not sufficient; the delivery of service is key. It’s the mechanics of implementation and a dedication to serving the well-being of students, faculty and staff that makes the difference. And you have that at Carolina.

 

SEXUAL ASSAULT RESOURCES AVAILABLE BOTH ON AND OFF CAMPUS

Anyone dealing with an imminent life-threatening situation, including sexual assault, should:

  • Call 911;
  • Call the Department of Public Safety at 919-962-8100; and/or
  • Proceed to the UNC Hospitals Emergency Department (919-966-4721).

Anyone who has experienced physical or sexual assault, especially within the last  72 hours should contact:

  • Counseling and Psychological Services (campushealth.unc.edu/caps, 919-966-3658) for mental health or trauma;
  • Campus Health Services (campus health.unc.edu/services/acute-care/sexual-assault-response.html, 919-966-3650 or 919-966-2281 after hours) or Emergency Department (919-966-4721) for medical assistance for an injury, concerns about sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy, or if forensic evidence is to be collected; or
  • LGBTQ Center (lgbtq.unc.edu, 919-843-5376) for support services.

After business hours, students should contact the Department of Public Safety  (919-962-8100) and ask to speak to the on-call Dean of Students for assistance accessing any of these services.

The Dean of Students office (deanofstudents.unc.edu, 919-966-4042) can also help with changes in housing or work/class schedules, no-contact orders, academic help and as a guide to options and resources.

Students can go through both the legal system and the University. They are separate processes.

To press charges for an on-campus assault, contact the Department of Public Safety, (www.dps.unc.edu/dps, 919-962-8100).

To press charges for an off-campus assault, contact:

  • Carrboro Police Department: go.unc.edu/i3HWq, 919-918-7397;
  • Chapel Hill Police Department: go.unc.edu/s9ZRn, 919-968-2760; or
  • Orange County Sheriff’s Office, go.unc.edu/Cn4m7, 919-644-3050.

To file a complaint under University policy, contact the Student Complaint Coordinator, Ew Quimbaya-Winship, Deputy Title IX  Officer, 919-966-4042.

Off-campus resources include:

Orange County Rape Crisis Center hotline (24/7): 1-866-WE-LISTEN (935-4783) or 919-967-7273

Compass Center for Women and Families (formerly the Family Violence Prevention Center) hotline (24/7): 1-866-929-7122 or 919-929-7122

For additional resources, see campus conversation.web.unc.edu. Also, information about Key Facts, FAQ, Background on Sexual Assault Complaints, Reporting Options, Campus & Community Resources & the Honor System are posted at http://campusconversation.web.unc.edu/2013/03/18/key-facts-faq-background-on-sexual-assault-complaints-reporting-options-campus-community-resources-the-honor-system/.

 

Key Facts, FAQ, Background on Sexual Assault Complaints, Reporting Options, Campus & Community Resources & the Honor System

Key Facts, FAQ, Background on Sexual Assault Complaints, Reporting Options, Campus & Community Resources & the Honor System

The University has published a new resource on the Campus Conversation on Sexual Assault website to provide information about a wide range of issues affecting students.

The new posting covers the following:

The new content reflects feedback from the campus community in recent weeks, as well as suggestions submitted via the website.

We encourage you to review this information to be better informed about the current situation at Carolina.

Faculty reaffirm commitment to safe, inclusive campus community

Faculty reaffirm commitment to safe, inclusive campus community

At its March 8 meeting, the Faculty Council unanimously reaffirmed its commitment to a safe and inclusive campus community that supports individuals’ rights to learn and work in at atmosphere of fairness, equity and access to employment and educational programs.

“We strongly support campus, local and state efforts to prevent violence in all its forms, to connect survivors of sexual violence with support and resources, and to hold the perpetrators of such acts accountable,” the resolution stated.

The council introduced the resolution in part because April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and in part because of the importance of sexual violence conversations, particularly in light of the University’s recent notification by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights that it had opened an investigation into the handling of sexual assault complaints. The Employee Forum previously supported the resolution as well.

“The University is cooperating fully with this investigation. In fact, we welcome it. Our response will show how the University has made significant changes in the past 18 months about how sexual assault complaints are handled,” Chancellor Holden Thorp said in a campus email message earlier that day. “We began making many of these changes long before the Office for Civil Rights complaint was filed several weeks ago.”

Already, Thorp had called for a campus-wide conversation to discuss how sexual assault affects the Carolina community. Gina Maisto Smith, a former prosecutor, educator and consultant who has guided several institutions, is leading the series of community meetings designed to inform people about the issues and to solicit feedback throughout the University.

Message from the Chancellor: Continuing the Campus Conversation About Sexual Assault

March 8, 2013

Message from the Chancellor:  Continuing the Campus Conversation About Sexual Assault

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

The conversation on campus surrounding sexual assault is growing louder and more passionate. Let’s talk about it.

To make meaningful changes that will improve how sexual assault is addressed at Carolina, we must have an open and honest dialogue.

Those conversations are taking place across campus. Informally and formally. In small groups and large. Among students, faculty, administrators, staff and other members of our campus community.

Sexual assault is one of the greatest challenges facing campuses across the nation, including Carolina, and it is an issue that I am committed to addressing before I leave office. We’re focused on the safety of our students, as well as faculty and staff, and have an obligation to do everything we can to provide the care and support they need if a sexual assault occurs. In those instances, we must act promptly to thoroughly investigate and address any misconduct.

This week, as expected, we were notified by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights that it has opened an investigation about our handling of sexual assault complaints. The University is cooperating fully with this investigation. In fact, we welcome it. Our response will show how the University has made significant changes in the past 18 months about how sexual assault complaints are handled. They include removing sexual assault cases from the jurisdiction of the Honor System and implementing a new process that involves students, faculty and staff who are specially trained to deal with the complexities of these cases. In addition, we continue to build on our existing relationships with the University’s Department of Public Safety, local law enforcement officials and rape crisis counselors to provide a comprehensive range of support services to students who experience sexual assault.

We began making many of these changes long before the Office for Civil Rights complaint was filed several weeks ago. In fact, much of this work is in response to guidelines and recommendations issued by the Office for Civil Rights to universities nationwide in 2011.

Our system is still not perfect.

There is more work to be done, and we are committed to making additional changes that will improve the way sexual assault cases are handled at the University. This month, we brought on board two new employees to investigate sexual assault allegations and help survivors of sexual assault get the information and resources they need.

Gina Smith, a nationally recognized expert on sexual assault issues, continues to work closely with the University. She returned to campus this week to meet with students and engage in open discussions about these issues. Her work will elicit important feedback and produce clear recommendations to help us strengthen our processes.

We are also gathering valuable feedback from students and faculty in other ways. I recently received a letter from Dr. Joanne Hershfield, chair of the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, offering suggestions on how to address sexual assault issues on campus. I look forward to evaluating those recommendations and working with Dr. Hershfield and other faculty members to continue the dialogue about how we can do better.

Additional feedback from students, faculty, staff, alumni and other members of our campus community is being collected through an online suggestion box at http://campusconversation.web.unc.edu/suggestion-box/. It’s a website where you can learn more about the steps we are taking, find the latest news about this issue, and confidentially share your thoughts about the important work that still needs to be done.

While our students and faculty take a well-deserved break for rest and reflection next week, let me assure you that we will be hard at work, mindful that the ultimate goal is to eradicate sexual violence and misconduct from our campus. Our students and this community deserve no less.

Enjoy your Spring Break. Be safe. I look forward to continuing this conversation when you return.

Sincerely,

Holden Thorp

University receives notification, data request letter from OCR

March 6, 2013

University receives notification, data request letter from OCR

The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has notified the University that it will investigate a discrimination complaint filed in January with its District of Columbia office. The complainants have made allegations about the University’s response to sexual assault and sexual violence cases. The letter noted that opening the allegation for investigation “in no way implies that OCR has made a determination with regard to the merits of the complaint.”

During the investigation, “OCR is a neutral fact-finder, collecting and analyzing relevant evidence from the complainant, the recipient, and other sources, as appropriate.”

The University will respond appropriately to the OCR’s request for information and cooperate fully with the investigation.

Click here to view a copy of the letter.

Help make UNC a safer place by speaking up

Letter to the Editor

The Daily Tar Heel

March 6, 2013

Help make UNC a safer place by speaking up

As the representatives of the faculty, staff and students of the University we want to jointly speak on the recent series of events surrounding sexual assault allegations at the University.

Let us make one thing clear from the outset: We cannot and must not tolerate sexual misconduct of any kind on this or any other campus.

The situation we are facing is truly tragic on all sides and one that never should have occurred.

From the news stories and our own meetings, we know members of the Carolina community have endured physical, mental and emotional suffering. No one at UNC deserves to go through such trying experiences.

We must have a safe and supportive environment for all. Until the day that there are no sexual assaults on this campus, we cannot stop pushing for safety and justice for all. This includes safety not only for anyone who has suffered sexual assault, but also for the accused and for those charged with upholding our system of self-governance.

And justice cannot be served unless victims of sexual violence come forward. We know this is a tough request even under the most ideal conditions.

In order to make this possible, we must create an environment where victims feel safe so they will be willing to tell their stories and prosecute their abusers. Doing so is imperative for us all.

While we cannot address the specific allegations and claims of this most recent case to be brought before the Honor Court and made public by Landen Gambill, we would like to speak more broadly about the honor system at UNC.

We have a 100-year tradition at Carolina of students having the autonomy to determine what shall and shall not be appropriate behavior in our community. We want students to be able to have a voice. A strong system of student governance, including the work done by the honor system at UNC, helps make that possible.

It should be possible to keep such student autonomy, and have a dialogue about and resolve reported cases of sexual assault. We wish to ensure both of these things happen. However, the case before us indicates that there are clear dissatisfactions with and misconceptions of the honor system.

There have also been allegations that the administration is taking an active retaliatory role in this case.

While we emphatically believe this to be false — it is a student-to-student case — we need to address all of these concerns in order to have a meaningful conversation about what we should do as a university.

As evidenced by the dialogues on sexual misconduct being facilitated by Gina Smith and the hiring of the new Title IX Coordinator Ew Quimbaya-Winship, this administration from the chancellor’s office to the Board of Trustees is as deeply committed to preventing sexual assaults as we are.

We must all speak out and speak up for each other. If we are to make Carolina the safe place we all want and expect it to be, we can no longer stay silent.

Jan Boxill
Chairwoman
Faculty Council

Jackie Overton
Chairwoman
Employee Forum

Michael Bertucci, Kiran Bhardwaj
Graduate and Professional Student Federation

Will Leimenstoll, Christy Lambden
Student government

New Compliance Officer/Investigator

To the Carolina Campus Community:

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Jayne Grandes as an Investigator in the Equal Opportunity/ADA Office. She joined the Office on March 4, 2013.  This position serves as the primary Investigator for complaints of harassment, sexual misconduct and discrimination made by
students, faculty and staff pursuant to all applicable University policies, including the Policy on Prohibited Harassment, Including Sexual Misconduct, and Discrimination.  The Investigator will conduct prompt, thorough, objective and confidential investigations of complaints of harassment, including sexual misconduct, and discrimination; provide consultation and information regarding complaint procedures; and provide educational and training programs for the campus community. The position will work closely with the Student Complaint Coordinator/Deputy Title IX Officer in Student Affairs,  and the Grievance Coordinator in the Office of Human Resources in the investigation and resolution of complaints.  The Investigator will assure appropriate coordination with Public Safety, the Office of University Counsel and other university offices as appropriate.

Jayne previously worked as Director of the Office of Employment Equity at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey where she directed and administered the University’s Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Policies and the Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and harassment for 20,000  faculty and staff, and over 58,000 students over three campuses. She was also responsible for Title IX compliance.  She has over 18 years
of experience conducting investigations and in the resolution of harassment and discrimination complaints.

Please join me in welcoming Jayne to Carolina.

Ann Penn,
Director Equal Opportunity/ADA

Revamping the policy

Students should engage in sexual assault dialogues on campus

The Office of Civil Rights submitted a “Dear Colleague” letter in April 2011 with about 70 mandates for the adjudication of sexual assault cases on university campuses across the nation. In response, UNC-CH released a new sexual assault policy on Aug. 1, 2012.

University administrators received feedback from students, faculty and staff regarding the policy and were working to consider revisions when members of the University community submitted an Office of Civil Rights complaint in January. Read more in The Daily Tar Heel …

UNC is committed to a fair, respectful process

TO THE EDITOR:

In the past few days, there have been a number of media stories about a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights challenging our campus response to allegations of sexual assault.

I have not seen the complaint. I understand that the Office for Civil Rights received the complaint and is in the process of reviewing it now. Read more at the Daily Tar Heel…

INFORMATIONAL: Deputy Title IX Officer/Student Complaint Coordinator

To the Carolina Community:

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Ew Quimbaya-Winship (EW) as the Deputy Title IX Officer/Student Complaint Coordinator reporting to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.  This position will serve as the primary point of contact to advise students and receive reports of harassment or discrimination against students pursuant to all applicable University policies, including the Policy on Prohibited Harassment, Including Sexual Violence, and Discrimination. Read more at Safe@UNC…

Officials stand by UNC’s reporting of sexual assault cases

Vice Chancellor and General Counsel Leslie Strohm told the University Board of Trustees on Jan. 24 that the allegations that her office under-reported sexual assault cases “are false, they are untrue and they are just plain wrong.” Read more at the University Gazette…