Target: University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt
Goal: Condemn university’s retaliation against rape victims and demand significant changes to policies addressing sexual assault
According to reports from the Huffington Post and ThinkProgress, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC) “is now facing a third federal investigation into its sexual assault policies.” The latest case concerns “allegations that UNC inappropriately retaliated against [a student] at the university, after she publicly came forward about her rape.” The student, sophomore Landen Gambill, was subjected to UNC’s honor court where she was accused of “intimidating” her alleged rapist, resulting in a (now dropped) honor code violation. Condemn UNC’s continued retaliation against victims of rape and sexual misconduct and demand significant policy changes to protect all students at the university.
UNC joins the ranks of several other high-profile universities in America facing accusations of misconduct during rape and sexual violence investigations. Over the past year in particular, UNC “has faced significant backlash from its student body about its mistreatment of rape survivors,” with the US Department of Education sharply criticizing “retaliations” against “students who speak up about their sexual assault.” In a letter distributed to many universities, the Department of Education stated emphatically that “[individuals] should be commended when they raise concerns about compliance with the federal civil rights laws, not punished for doing so.”
With extensive research indicating an alarming rate of under-reporting sexual harassment and violence on campuses, America’s colleges and universities must provide open opportunities for dialogue on these critical matters. Sign this petition condemning UNC’s continued mistreatment of rape victims and demand that they pursue meaningful reforms to the university’s present sexual assault policy.
Dear Chancellor Folt,
The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill is one of the nation’s oldest and most distinguished universities. UNC, however, tarnished its image in recent months over repeated reports that the school has “retaliated” against students who publicly come forward about alleged incidents of rape and sexual misconduct. The third federal investigation into UNC’s sexual assault policies centers on the story of sophomore Landen Gambill, whose public disclosure of her rape resulted in a (now dropped) honor code violation “that claimed she ‘intimidated’ her alleged rapist.” UNC’s continuing efforts to whitewash the widespread problems of campus sexual assault in this country add insult to injury for victims of sexual violence. Such behaviors are unacceptable and they must end immediately.
While the university recently formed a task force to address these concerns and make recommendations about reforms to the present sexual assault policy at UNC, we urge you to consider the pervasive nationwide context of this issue. Recent research indicates that, in addition to enormous underreporting of sexual assault by victims, college campuses often fail to hold the alleged perpetrators of sexual violence accountable. The Center for Public Integrity compiled findings from a year-long investigation of numerous American colleges and universities, noting that many assailants – even after being found guilty – face minimal or nonexistent consequences. Expulsion of offenders, including repeat offenders with violent crimes, remains remarkably uncommon.
We the undersigned condemn UNC’s continued mistreatment of sexual violence victims. Constructively engage with your students to build a safer environment and stop marginalizing or retaliating against victims of violence.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Caroline Culler, via Wikimedia.