UNC Student Risks Expulsion by Going Public with Alleged Rape
(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) -- A University of North Carolina sophomore who accused a fellow student of rape says she's facing possible expulsion because a student-government group claims she might have violated the college's honor code by displaying "disruptive or intimidating behavior" toward her alleged rapist.
"The more I found out about what the actual charge was, I just realized that this is ridiculous," Landen Gambill told ABC affiliate WTVD-TV. "I never mentioned his [the alleged rapist] name publicly. All I've done is talk about the university's mistreatment of survivors."
Gambill says she received a letter from a "graduate student attorney general" after she, along with three other students and a former UNC assistant dean of students, filed a complaint in January with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. The complaint alleges that UNC-Chapel Hill did not assist students in recovery after they were victims of sexual assaults and routinely violated their rights.
Gambill filed a sexual-assault charge against her ex-boyfriend in the spring of 2012 via the school's internal proceedings in its "Honor Court." He was found not guilty, she told the school's paper, The Daily Tarheel.
She apparently sought relief through the school rather than filing a police report. Gambill has not responded to ABC News' requests for comment.
Gambill said she received a notice via email Friday from the Honor Court charging her with an Honor Code violation for "disruptive or intimidating behavior" toward her alleged rapist. A guilty verdict in UNC Honor Court could lead to anything from a grade penalty to expulsion.
"Last week, I found out that rather than addressing the injustices survivors have suffered at the hands of the University or committee to ensure that no other survivors go through these things again, certain administrators have decided to continue their retaliation against me…" Gambill announced in a Facebook post.
Gambill said she was told in a preliminary Honor Court meeting by a representative that she might have violated the school's honor code by simply saying that she was raped.
"I asked the graduate student attorney general whether I could have violated the Honor Code by saying I was raped. She replied, 'Yes,' Gambill told WTVD.
UNC's undergraduate Honor Court is composed of undergraduate students from all backgrounds and majors, according to the school's website. The court reviews allegations of misconduct to determine whether the school's honor code has been violated.
The school has denied unfairly targeting Gambill. Karen Moon, a spokeswoman for UNC, said the school is unable to discuss the specifics of an Honor Court case or any allegations involving students, but points out that the charging decisions are made by the appointed student attorney generals, and not by campus administrators.
Therefore, the school says, a claim of "retaliation" is "without merit."
In an email sent to ABC News, Moon also says a faculty advisory committee is available to the student attorney generals "for consultation in difficult cases."
UNC developed a new process for responding to sexual assault complaints in August. They are no longer addressed by the Honor Court system.
The school points out that it has retained a top lawyer who deals with sexual misconduct issues, who has been on campus in the past few weeks to "guide an open and transparent conversation about how the issue of sexual assault affects the campus and culture that is focusing on education and engagement," according to Moon's written statement.
It's unclear whether the policy change resulted from Gambill's case.
Gambill told The Daily Tarheel that she plans to respond to the charges with a claim of not guilty.
"This is way bigger than me. I'm just one example of many," she said. "I know there are many other people whose voices deserve to be heard."
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