Monday, February 25, 2013

UNC to Victim: Shut up or else!

Last month I linked to a series of articles in the North Carolina Daily Tarheel about UNC's abysmal record dealing with sexual assault on campus. A former dean has alleged that the school pressured her to underreport cases of assualt to the Department of Education; Four students filed complaint with the federal Office of Civil Rights arguing that the school creates a hostile environment for victims of sexual violence; And the school's undertrained Honor Court treated Landen Gambill, a student who alleged long-term abuse by her boyfriend, to questions like this:
Landen, as a woman, I know that if that had happened to me, I would’ve broken up with him the first time it happened. Will you explain to me why you didn’t?
At the time, the Honor Court was composed of two students and two professors. UNC claims that they have since overhauled their Honor Court system. But today Jezebel.com reports that Ms. Gambill will have to defend herself to the same Honor Court for creating a hostile environment for her abuser.
You are being charged with the following Honor Code violation(s): 
II.C.1.c. - Disruptive or intimidating behavior that willfully abuses, disparages, or otherwise interferes with another (other than on the basis of protected classifications identified and addressed in the University's Policy on Prohibited Harassment and Discrimination) so as to adversely affect their academic pursuits, opportunities for University employment, participation in University-sponsored extracurricular activities, or opportunities to benefit from other aspects of University Life.

This decision was reached because the evidence provides a reasonable basis to believe that a violation of the Honor Code may have occurred. Please note that being charged with a violation does not imply guilt. It simply means that sufficient evidence of a possible violation exists to warrant a hearing before the Undergraduate Honor Court.
Yes, Ms. Gambill is being threatened with expulsion for talking about her experience of sexual assault and harassment. Although she has never used his name, her former boyfriend is feeling disparaged.

Boohoo.

Ms. Gambill receieved this notice from the Graduate and Professional Schools Student Attorney General. Sounds official, right?

Psssst, UNC! If you're going to tell a victim of sexual assault to stop talking about it because it makes dormlife uncomfortable for her rapist, don't have a law-student draft the violation! If your institution was recently in the news for having a review board that is totally untrained to deal with cases of sexual violence, maybe get someone with specialized training to write the letter? And if you're tring to intimidate a victim of sexual violence to shut up about it, maybe a faculty member would be a more effective spokesman?

Or maybe, don't try to intimidate victims at all. Because, PR gaffe aside, prosecuting women who report assaults is backward behavior unworthy of an institute of higher education.

Another $5 for the Orange County Rape Crisis Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Dangit.

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