UNC-Chapel Hill announces an improved, comprehensive policy addressing sexual violence

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UNC-Chapel Hill announces an improved, comprehensive policy addressing sexual violence

Collaborative process creates streamlined policy that bolsters and clarifies support options, defines types of prohibited conduct and other key terms and creates a more easily navigable adjudication process

 

 

(Chapel Hill, N.C.—August 28, 2014) – The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill today announced the adoption of a more comprehensive policy on sexual violence. The policy, which also covers discrimination, harassment and related misconduct, interpersonal violence and stalking, clearly lays out the types of conduct prohibited by the University, offers clarity on key terms such as “consent” and creates a easily navigable adjudication process to ensure fairness and balance.

 

In 2013, a 22-member task force – comprising students, faculty, staff and a community member – was charged with reviewing and improving institutional processes and developing recommendations. The task force’s dedication and hard work over the course of a year builds on input from the Carolina community, recommendations from a prior student task force and significant feedback collected from hundreds of interviews during a University-commissioned listening tour.

 

“The Carolina community is steadfast in their dedication to addressing this major issue. The policy is part of a comprehensive, thoughtful approach to addressing sexual violence and is a critical component of our commitment to student well-being,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “We are not done – we will continue to identify ways to provide a safe place to learn and work.”

 

Most notably, the streamlined policy reflects input from the campus community and addresses four key areas:

  • Clearly identified support and resource options: The policy makes it easier for the campus community to access confidential support and additional resources for both the reporting and responding parties.
  • More precise scope of prohibited conduct: The policy distinguishes among the forms of prohibited conduct: discrimination, harassment, sexual violence, sexual exploitation, interpersonal (relationship) violence, stalking, complicity for knowingly assisting in an act that violates the policy and retaliation.
  • Comprehensive definitions of key terminology: The policy contains more comprehensive definitions for terms such as “consent” to sexual contact and “incapacitation” where alcohol or drug use is involved.
  • Fair and balanced adjudication and resolution process: The revised process offers a supportive environment for both reporting and responding parties and increases overall efficiency. It will leverage the expertise of well-trained personnel; students will not serve in an adjudicating role.

 

The policy revises procedures for the investigation and resolution of reports involving students. The University also will develop specific procedures for reporting and responding when a faculty or staff member is the responding party.

 

In February 2013, the University engaged Gina Maisto Smith, a former prosecutor, educator and national expert on campus sexual misconduct, to obtain feedback from the Carolina community about sexual misconduct and on how the University addresses reports of such prohibited conduct.

 

“The way the Carolina community came together to develop this policy is remarkable,” Smith said. “The task force carefully crafted the policy to address issues voiced during conversations with hundreds of community members. The result is an improved policy that signifies the University’s continuing commitment to addressing and eliminating sexual violence.”

 

Carolina has created a website (http://sexualassaultanddiscriminationpolicy.unc.edu) to help the campus community understand the policy. The University will provide training sessions beginning during the month of September about the policy and reporting responsibilities for those individuals who are required to report incidents that are potential violations.

 

“Carolina is deeply committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment,” task force Chair Christi Hurt added. “We will form an advisory committee of faculty, staff, students and the community to review the implementation of the policy and to provide further recommendations.”

 

The policy complies with the Dear Colleague Letter issued in 2011 by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), Section 304 of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, and Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence issued on April 29, 2014 by OCR. The policy is consistent with the recommendations issued by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault and the system-wide UNC Campus Security Initiative.

 

-Carolina-

 

Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office contact: Hilary Delbridge, (919) 445-1575, hilarydelbridge@unc.edu

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