Updated at 2:25 p.m.
UNC-Chapel Hill has been found in violation of federal law in the way it responded to complaints of sexual assault and harassment. The finding is the result of a five-year investigation into the university’s policies surrounding Title IX, the federal anti-discrimination law.
Andrea Pino, one of four former UNC students to file a federal complaint alongside a former UNC administrator in 2013, said in a statement that the decision from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights “validated our allegations.”
“Five years later, and at the heels of the #metoo movement and the 46th anniversary of Title IX,” the statement continues, “I am glad that our complaint pushed campus sexual assault and Title IX to the national agenda, and I hope that Carolina takes this opportunity to recommit to truly making our university a safe and equitable campus for all students."
Federal officials notified the complainants about the decision in a letter received Monday night: "OCR has determined that UNC has failed to adopt and publish grievance procedures that provide for the prompt and equitable resolution of student, employee, and third-party complaints alleging discrimination on the basis of sex, as required by Title IX.”
The OCR reviewed at least 387 files having to do with complaints of sexual harassment and violence complaints at UNC between 2011 and 2016.
UNC has not admitted to any violations. But UNC Chancellor Carol Folt issued a statement Tuesday outlining five actions the university will take as part of a resolution agreement with the federal government, including giving clear notice to students and staff about the campus's sexual assault and sex discrimination policies.
Folt's statement also pointed to a section of the OCR's letter of findings acknowledging the university's actions since the initial complaint was filed in 2013: “During the course of its investigation, OCR recognizes that the University has been proactive regarding its efforts to maintain a campus environment free from discrimination, harassment, and related misconduct, including sexual violence and sexual assault, including through strengthening its Title IX response policies, procedures, resources, and outreach.”
As a part of the resolution agreement, the university must provide reports and submit to monitoring from federal officials. The university has also pledged to resolve two allegations, one of which was not investigated fully before its conclusion.