Dear Carolina Community:
I am pleased to write today to announce the adoption of a comprehensive revision to the University policy on sexual violence and discrimination. The policy, which also addresses harassment and related misconduct, interpersonal violence and stalking, applies to all students and employees. It affirms that the University does not discriminate on the basis of an individual’s age, color, creed, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation and veteran status. The adoption of this policy is a vital step in taking a wide-ranging approach to ensuring a safe and welcoming campus.
The policy, which takes effect today, Aug. 28, 2014, revises procedures for the investigation and adjudication of reports involving students. Any reports filed beginning today will be covered under this policy, regardless of the date of the incident. The policy and procedures comply with federal regulations and are consistent with the recommendations of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault and the system-wide UNC Campus Security Initiative. This new policy does not yet address the procedures for when a faculty or staff member is the responding party, but the University does plan to review those procedures and will take the same care in developing those guidelines.
The revised policy comes from recommendations of a 22-member task force formed in 2013 – comprising undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff and a community member – to address sexual violence. The task force’s dedicated work over the course of a year included gathering input from the Carolina community, recommendations from a prior student task force, and collecting significant feedback from hundreds of interviews during a University-commissioned listening tour. The task force thoughtfully examined every aspect of our institutional processes, from reporting, support and response, to investigation, adjudication and appeals. Even as the policy was being developed, campus groups were working together to significantly improve processes and streamline coordination.
I am proud of the task force’s commitment and the quality of their recommendations. They worked their way through rapidly changing federal guidelines. They delved into a complex issue and conducted their work in a positive, constructive manner with respect and honesty throughout the process. We will all benefit from their careful work, and I thank them for their service.
We have created a website to help you learn more about the policy, procedures, available resources and frequently asked questions: http://sexualassaultanddiscriminationpolicy.unc.edu. We also have developed an online training program, which we piloted during the summer session. Information and instructions about taking the training will go out to every student, faculty and staff member during the month of September. We also have developed additional training materials and will be able to provide in-person trainings for groups within our community.
Finally, we will form an advisory committee of faculty, staff, students and the community to review the implementation of the policy and to provide further recommendations.
Thank you all for helping to make Carolina a wonderful learning community for all.
Carol L. Folt