UNC students walk to class

UNC purposefully underreported sexual assault cases

UNC students walk to classLast month, students at the Chapel Hill campus of the University of North Carolina went public with stories of sexual assault and their school’s mishandling of their reports. The activists have now filed Title IX and Clery Act complaints with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, and the contents are damning.

As one signatory’s experiences shows, UNC’s failure to respond to student violence is clearly not just a matter of indifference but an active public relations strategy. Writes the Daily Tarheel:

The complaint alleges [complainants and former assistant dean of students Melinda] Manning was told by the University Counsel’s office that the number of sexual assault cases she compiled for 2010 was “too high” before the total was decreased by three cases without her knowledge; that she was made the victim of a hostile work environment in the dean of students office; and that her efforts to reform the University’s handling of sexual assault cases were stymied more than once by higher administrators.

There are other ways for a school to lower assault stats than illegally fudging the numbers. It can suspend or expel rapists and roll out comprehensive consent education programs. But approaching epidemic violence as nothing more than an embarrassing number indicates an institutionalized callous cruelty.

These feminists are proving that the real PR disaster UNC should have feared was the moment its survivors decided to speak out.

Washington, DC

Alexandra Brodsky was a senior editor at Feministing.com. During her four years at the site, she wrote about gender violence, reproductive justice, and education equity and ran the site's book review column. She is now a Skadden Fellow at the National Women's Law Center and also serves as the Board Chair of Know Your IX, a national student-led movement to end gender violence, which she co-founded and previously co-directed. Alexandra has written for publications including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Nation, and she is the co-editor of The Feminist Utopia Project: 57 Visions of a Wildly Better Future. She has spoken about violence against women and reproductive justice at campuses across the country and on MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, ESPN, and NPR.

Alexandra Brodsky was a senior editor at Feministing.com.

Read more about Alexandra

Join the Conversation