UNC System campus safety group recommends removing students from sex assault hearings
A University of North Carolina (UNC) System campus security group has recommended that students be removed from campus sexual assault hearings.
The system’s Campus Security Initiative released 36 recommendations to better campus security and prevent crimes on school grounds last week, according to a UNC System spokesperson. Among those recommendations, the group suggested removing students from sexual assault panels.
“Students should not serve on student disciplinary hearing panels in cases involving sexual violence,” the group recommended in the detailed 120-page report. “Individuals who hear sexual violence cases must have appropriate levels of experience and training.”
The group also recommended that UNC “adopt a system policy on sexual harassment and sexual violence.” UNC-Chapel Hill is one of 64 schoolscurrently being investigated by the Office of Civil Rights for allegedly violating Title IX by mishandling sexual assault cases.
The Campus Security Initiative group also recommended that every UNC campus police department meet “baseline proficiency standards” and should increase the salaries for public safety officers.
Former Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) Police Chief Same Beamon was arrested in May after a yearlong State Bureau of Investigation search found that he failed to properly investigate 78 reported crimes—including 12 sexual assault cases.
The investigation and arrest led to the retirement of ECSU Chancellor Willie Gilchrist and the firing of five of the 11-member campus police force.
According to a document provided to Campus Reform from a UNC System spokesperson, this report isn’t the first campus safety review and won’t be the last. The report listed “[d]oing more to prevent sexual violence and ensure clear, trauma-informed responses, including prompt and fair student disciplinary hearings” as one of the system’s “most significant” goals.
The initiative also suggested the university do more to educate students on alcohol and substance abuse in order to protect students from a variety of crimes and health issues.
Colleges nationwide are under pressure by the federal government to crack down on sexual assault cases. Multiple universities are facing lawsuits from students regarding the mishandling of campus sexual assault cases, including from male students who claim they were falsely accused of sexual assault.