UNC complies with federal request for information
UNC announced Thursday that it has responded to a request by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights’ request for information and data about how the university responds to allegations of sexual assault and sexual violence.
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) had given the university 20 days to comply with more than two pages of requests for information and data about UNC’s policy and procedures regarding sexual assault, the names and job descriptions of people responsible for handling complaints of sexual assault and a spreadsheet detailing all student complaints made during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years, among other requests.
UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp has said the university will full cooperate with the OCR request.
“We’re focused on the safety of our students, as well as faculty and staff, and have an obligation to do everything we can to provide the care and support they need if a sexual assault occurs,” Thorp told the campus in a March 8 email message
The investigation was sparked by complaints by three students, one former student and the former assistant dean of students Melinda Manning.
They allege that the university violated the rights of sexual assault victims and created a hostile environment for students reporting sexual assault.
Manning also has accused university officials of pressuring her into lowering the number of reported offenses. She has said there were three fewer cases in the Annual Campus Security Report than she originally submitted.
UNC officials vigorously denied the charge during a Board of Trustees meeting in January. Officials contend that the report, in fact, contained more incidents of sexual violence than Manning submitted to include in the report.
Meanwhile, Thorp has hired Gina Smith, a nationally recognized expert on sexual assault issues, to meet with students and engage them in discussions.
Also, Joanne Hershfield, chairwoman of the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, has made suggestions about how the university may improve the way it addresses sexual assaults on campus.
Thorp said he will review Hershfield’s suggestions and work with her and other faculty members to “continue the dialogue about how we can do better.”