Target: University of North Carolina
Goal: Stop victim-blaming and bring about justice for victims of sexual assault.
Recently, the University of North Carolina was brought to scrutiny by the U.S. Department of Education in regards to how the university handles students’ reports of rape and sexual assault. This investigation was initially prompted by public outrage over the case of a student, Landen Gambill, who faced expulsion for reporting an alleged rape. The university has what has been described by one former administrator as a long history of “turning a blind-eye” to sexual violence on campus.
The investigation intends to examine students’ claims that school administrators casually dismissed worries concerning instances of sexual assault, and offered few guidelines on how to report such violence. Furthermore, the university faces criticism for purportedly failing to properly investigate claims brought to administrators’ attention, and for not reporting such claims to authorities, as is required by law.
According to Annie Clark, the lead complainant, efforts to look into how the university handles sexual assault claims stems not from an effort to “vilify” the school, but to “make it better.” While the school has remained cooperative with efforts by the U.S. Department of Education, it has disputed claims of apathy on the part of administrators and school officials in terms of sexual violence. However, Clark stated that, when sexually assaulted in 2007, she had no clear idea of where to turn. She was reportedly told by one school administrator, “rape is like football. And if you look back on the game, would you have done anything differently?”
This sort of victim-blaming language is apparently common at UNC. Many victims reported similar treatment when attempting to report instances of sexual assault, including being questioned as to what they, the victim, could have done to stop the alleged rape. As one complainant, Andrea Pino, stated, this investigation should “serve as a wake-up call, not just for UNC, but universities across the country.” Join the call to action and demand that the University of North Carolina change the way it handles claims of sexual assault and bring justice to the victims of sexual violence on campus.
Dear University of North Carolina President Thomas Ross,
A university campus should offer a place of comfort and safety to its students, most especially when a student is in need. Unfortunately, as has been recently brought to light, UNC has failed to meet the needs of student victims of sexual violence. Rather than extend a sense of safety to students reporting sexual assaults, administrators at the university have left individuals and the student body feeling dismissed and discredited. Furthermore, many administrators have reportedly responded to claims of rape or sexual assault with victim-blaming language and attitudes that focus on finding fault with the victim rather than the alleged attackers. These techniques do nothing but leave the victim feeling even more hopeless, as those who are supposed to offer protection have failed them. This is simply unacceptable.
I urge you to take seriously the allegations made by members of UNC’s student body, and to change the way the university handles reports of sexual violence on campus. In this way, UNC can set an example for other universities across the nation, as well as provide an increased sense of security for students. Please require that all reports of rape be properly investigated, that victim-blaming language and techniques be eradicated and ensure justice and security for all students at UNC.
[Your Name Here]