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.

New Haven, CT

Alexandra Brodsky is an editor at Feministing.com, student at Yale Law School, and founding co-director of Know Your IX, a national legal education campaign against campus gender-based violence. Alexandra has written for publications including the New York Times, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and the Nation, and she has spoken about violence against women and reproductive justice on MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, and NPR. Through Know Your IX, she has organized with students across the country to build campuses free from discrimination and violence, developed federal policy on Title IX enforcement, and has testified at the Senate. At Yale Law, Alexandra focuses on antidiscrimination law and is a member of the Veterans Legal Services Clinic. Alexandra is committed to developing and strengthening responses to gender-based violence outside the criminal justice system through writing, organizing, and the law. Keep an eye out for The Feminist Utopia Project, co-edited by Alexandra and forthcoming from the Feminist Press (2015).

Alexandra Brodsky is an editor at Feministing.com, student at Yale Law School, and founding co-director of Know Your IX.

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