Earlier this morning, 3 students, Andrea Pino, Landen Gambill, along with alumni Annie Clark and former UNC Associate Dean of Students Melinda Manning filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights on behalf of themselves and 64 other unnamed victims against UNC.
Pino, Gambill, and Clark, all sexual assault victims filed the suit after being sexually assaulted while attending UNC. Melinda Manning, who resigned after 11 years at UNC, due to the treatment of the victims, also joined in the suit. While seeking out help from the university, they claim that the university violated several of their rights as survivors of sexual assault. The survivors claim that UNC has an open hostility towards the survivors.
Gambill’s assault came at a unique time in which there was a change in policy at UNC due to the “Dear Colleague” letter sent out by the US Department of Education, to many universities regarding sexual assault policies. At the beginning of Gambill’s trial, UNC had already enacted the guidelines set out by the letter. Therefore, her trial began under two Honor Court students, a faculty member and an administrative chair. During this trial, Gambill reported, along with several other students, that they were asked insensitive questions, were discriminated against, and their rights were violated. In one instance, Gambill claims the student representing her gave information to her parents without permission, a direct violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
During the trial, Gambil also claims that the university tries to re-victimize her by blaming her for what happened. While in a relationship with her boyfriend, she claims he raped and then stalked her after the relationship ended. She claims they made her testify in gruesome detail and was then questioned as to why she had not left the relationship earlier. In addition to the trial, the claims also indicates that the university is covering up the incompetency and slow moving process that students must go through. She says that the university offers little to no explanation as to what the process is or what the next step will be. She is not the only one, as many UNC students do not now the resources and courses of actions that can be taken.
This failure by the university is a very disturbing one. Should these allegations be true, this scandal will further tarnish the reputation of our university that is already questioned underneath Chancellor Thorp. This issue, which affects thousands of both men and women both on campus and across the nation, is not an issue for students, or for that matter school officials, to be handling. Gambil’s case should have been tried in the court of law, with actual licensed attorneys and judges. After they decide the evidence, then the school should make its decision. The university needs to explain and define its policy clearly and explicitly or face further lawsuits and complaints.