Last week, the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights concluded a five-year investigation, determining that University of North Carolina Chapel Hill was in violation of Title IX. UNC did not admit guilt, but Chancellor Carol Folt listed five actions to improve UNC’s Title IX program.
During the investigation, which lasted from 2011 to 2016, over 387 sexual harassment and sexual violence complaints were filed at UNC.
285 of these complaints were filed since UNC’s current policy was implemented in 2014. Only 18 were formally investigated. A mere five were resolved within the university’s timeframe.
The Department of Education started the investigation after four former UNC students and a former administrator filed complaints. Two of the survivors were heavily featured in “The Hunting Ground,” a 2015 documentary on campus sexual assault. These two women also co-founded End Rape on Campus, a survivor advocacy group, and co-authored “We Believe You.”
Recently, in Fall 2016, sophomore Delaney Robinson went public with her outrage at the UNC administration’s failure to properly investigate her case after she was raped by a UNC football player the previous February. When questioned by the Department of Public Safety, Robinson was asked about how much she drank that night, what she was wearing and even about her sexual history. Allen Artis, her assailant, received a much different treatment.
“Rather than accusing him of anything, the investigators spoke to him with a tone of camaraderie,” Robinson said in a press release. “They provided reassurances to him when he became upset. They even laughed with him when he told them how many girls’ phone numbers he had managed to get on the same night that he raped me. They told him, ‘don’t sweat it, just keep on living your life and keep on playing football.’”
After she was raped, Robinson went to the hospital, got a rape kit and soon filed a complaint with UNC’s Title IX office. Even though her rape kit showed “blunt force trauma,” she was met with delays from the UNC administration until she held a press conference in September 2016 alleging that UNC mishandled her case.
Nearly a year later, the case against Allen Artis was dismissed, and Artis was reinstated to the football team.
Robinson’s press conference about UNC’s investigative failures made national news and inspired a UNC student movement against campus sexual assault. Students organized rallies, protests and forums to confront the administration about how they handle sexual assault cases.
Last September, Secretary of Education Betsy Devos announced she would roll back the Title IX protections put in place under the Obama administration in the Dear Colleague Letter. She remarked that she will be hearing from politicians, medical professionals, and the clergy to “replace the current approach” in handling Title IX complaints and instances of sexual violence.
DeVos gave voice to the “falsely accused” and claimed the existing guidelines overreached and failed to give those accused of sexual misconduct due process.
Media Resources: Daily Tar Heel 6/27/18, 9/14/16, 6/29/17; The News and Observer 6/26/18; CNN 9/13/16