Folt expects task force recommendations soon

Aug. 04, 2014 @ 05:20 PM

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill task force that’s working on guidelines for dealing with student-on-student allegations of harassment, including sexual misconduct, and discrimination is “very close” to releasing a final report, Chancellor Carol Folt said Friday.
Since its launch last year, UNC-Chapel Hill’s “Title IX Task Force,” has discussed issues including how cases of sexual misconduct and other matters will be judged and investigated as well as what resources will be available for students who make sexual assault reports, according to the website for the group.
Some of the task force’s recommendations are in place already, Folt said in an interview Friday, while others will go through a process.
“Our goal is, as (soon as) we get it, to begin the process of implementation,” she said of the full group of recommendations.
In an email Monday, Hilary Delbridge, a public communications specialist for UNC-Chapel Hill’s Equal Opportunity/ADA Office, said the policy recommendations were undergoing an editing and review process. 
Some of the people involved in UNC-Chapel Hill’s Title IX Task Force also were involved in a review of safety policies for the 17-campus university of North Carolina system, Folt added.
UNC system President Tom Ross launched a task force last fall to review safety policies on issues including sexual violence and drug abuse for the entire system.
Last week, the system’s task force released recommendations including a proposal for a university-wide policy on sexual harassment and violence. The policy would defines terms such as “sexual harassment” and “sexual violence” and would also require each campus to have a Title IX coordinator.
In addition to creating the task force, UNC-Chapel Hill officials had also hired a full-time Title IX coordinator to help the campus deal with allegations of sexual assault, discrimination and incidents of violence.
The task force also recommended that campus disciplinary hearing panels hearing sexual violence cases should not include students.
“We feel very good that our policy, actually, is very aligned with that and has its own adaptations for our campus,” Folt said.
The work of UNC-Chapel Hill’s task force began after the U.S. Department of Education decided to investigate claims by a group of five women that UNC mishandled sexual assault cases, according to previous reports in The Herald-Sun.
Former students Annie Clark, Andrea Pino, student Landen Gambill, an unnamed student and former assistant dean of students Melinda Manning filed the complaint in January.
Manning also has accused university officials of pressuring her into lowering the number of reported offenses and claims there were three fewer cases in the Annual Campus Security Report than she originally submitted, according to the previous reports.
In an email, Denise Horn, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, said the department does not comment on the status of investigations or on complaints received. However, she did say that as of July 30, UNC-Chapel Hill was one of 76 total Title IX sexual violence cases under investigation, and one of 72 involving post-secondary institutions.