Department of Education Opens Investigation Into UNC’s Handling Of Sexual Assault

The U.S. Department of Education will begin investigating the way the University of North Carolina handles sexual assault cases, the News & Observer reported on Wednesday.

The investigation comes after a group of women filed a complaint to the Department in which they alleged that the University had inappropriately handled reports of rape, thus violating federal law and creating “a hostile environment” that would make students feel unable to report future sexual assault:

In a letter to Chancellor Holden Thorp dated March 1, Robin Murphy, a team leader on the Washington Office for Civil Rights, wrote that the office would open an investigation into the women’s complaint. She added that the office also found that there were individual allegations of disability discrimination. Those would be handled separately, she wrote.

“Please note that opening the allegation for investigation in no way implies that OCR has made a determination with regard to the merits of the complaint,” Murphy wrote. “During the investigation, OCR is a neutral fact-finder, collecting and analyzing relevant evidence from the complainant, the recipient, and other sources, as appropriate.”

The allegations against the University have sparked outrage among the student body, leading to rallies on campus. Anger over the accusations intensified this past week when one of the complainants, sophomore Landen Gambill, received a threat of expulsion from the University’s honor board for “intimidating” her alleged rapist by speaking publicly about her case. Gambill has not publicly named her assailant.