UNC Sex Assault Victim Faces Possible Expulsion for Speaking to Media

A University of North Carolina (UNC) sophomore who alleges she was sexually and verbally abused by her long-time boyfriend says the school’s Office of Student Conduct claims she is “intimidating” her attacker by talking to the press about her ordeal.

Landen Gambill is one of three UNC students who filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. She claims, along with UNC’s former assistant dean of students and a former student, that the university violated the Clery Act and Title IX, among other federal laws by pressuring the assistant dean to underreport sexual assaults. She also told the school newspaper and other media outlets about her experience reporting the alleged assault to UNC’s administration.

Since the story broke in January, Gambill has received E-mails from a UNC Graduate & Professional Schools Student Attorney General stating Gambill was possibly in violation of the school’s Honor Code, reports jezebel.com.  If the Honor Court determines she did intimidate her ex-boyfriend, she could be expelled, suspended or receive some other, less severe punishment, claims the Web site.

UNC issued the following written statement to Campus Safety magazine in response to the allegations:

“The University cares deeply about all of its students and is committed to providing policies and procedures that are fair for everyone, especially about an issue that is as difficult and often involves strong opinions on both sides like sexual assault. Because of concern for our students and their privacy, and in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), we are unable to discuss the specifics of an Honor Court case or related allegations involving students.

“At UNC-Chapel Hill, the Honor Court is a student-run process. (See http://studentconduct.unc.edu/). The Student Attorneys General have the authority to make decisions about cases considered by the court independent of campus administrators. Administrators may not encourage or prevent the Student Attorneys General from filing charges in a specific case. Given that these charging decisions are made by Student Attorney Generals and not by campus administrators, a claim of retaliation by the University would be without merit. Because of faculty interest in strengthening the Honor Court process, the University established – with Chancellor Thorp’s support – a faculty advisory committee to be available to the Student Attorney Generals for consultation in difficult cases. The University may not comment on when the faculty advisory committee becomes involved in cases.

“Effective August 1, 2012, the University developed a new process for responding to sexual assault complaints. Under this new process, sexual assault cases are no longer addressed through the Honor Court system.

“It’s also important to have the current context about UNC-Chapel Hill’s policies and procedures and the current dialogue occurring on campus under the guidance of Gina Smith, a nationally recognized lawyer and leading consultant on sexual misconduct issues retained by Carolina. She has been on campus in recent weeks to guide an open and transparent conversation about how the issue of sexual assault affects the campus and culture that is focusing on education and engagement. Smith, a former prosecutor, educator and consultant, has guided other campuses on issues related to their handling of sexual assault complaints.

“As part of this effort, the University has launched a website, Campus Conversation on Sexual Assault, that includes information about relevant policies, schedules for meetings and educational programming and a checklist for next steps. An electronic suggestion box on the site allows anyone to submit ideas to the core team working on implementation.

“The website includes recent updates about the University’s hiring of a new Title IX Officer/Student Complaint Coordinator and response to allegations made in connection with the filing of a complaint with the federal Office for Civil Rights in January. The University is on record pledging complete support and cooperation with the OCR, which is currently reviewing the complaint.”

Read the original news article.

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