To mark the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill student paper has a message for their university over its disciplinary system, which handles sexual assault with the seriousness of a minor infraction. Since the school received national attention for threatening to expel a college sophomore who spoke publicly about her rape, later suspending the proceeding, the paper ran a front-page editorial (shown above) demanding change.
While it is far from the only university with problems with its sexual assault policies, UNC has a history of underreporting sexual assault in the student body and mistreating rape victims. That culture appears to apply to staff as well. Last week, an administrative judge found that officials failed to protect a housekeeper, Maria Isabel Prudencio-Arias, from sexual harassment. When Prudencio-Arias reported her supervisor, who was later fired, she experienced retaliation from the department’s director. The university’s slow response left her to situations like scrubbing the men’s urine-covered bathroom floor on her hands and knees and wearing a heavy vacuum despite her back problems.
On Tuesday, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill faces its second federal investigation of the school’s sexual assault policies in one month. The complaint alleges that UNC, in an attempt to lower their rape reportings, created a hostile environment for students attempting to report crimes.
The frightening part, as Jessica Valenti notes, is that this injustice toward assault victims on college campuses is all too familiar. The vast majority — 95 percent — are discouraged from ever coming forward, and those who do are often ostracized and harassed.