College Rape Victim Faces Expulsion for Speaking Out
University of North Carolina School Government building.
Photo Credit: Robert Poore/Wikimedia Commons
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A sophomore at the University of North Carolina (UNC) is facing potential expulsion and other consequences from her school for what the college calls “intimidating” behavior. But the “intimidating” behavior may be that the student spoke out to the press about the man who raped her.
As the blog Jezebel highlights, Melinda Manning, the former assistant dean of students at UNC, and other students “filed a complaint [last month] with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights on behalf of themselves and 64 other unnamed sexual assault survivors, alleging that university officials pressured Manning into underreporting cases.” The complaint also alleges violations of laws under the “Campus Sexual Assault Victims' Bill of Rights, the Clery Act and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and equal opportunity mandates” from federal civil rights law.
Now one of the students who was a party to the complaint, named Landen Gambill, is being investigated by the school’s “Honor Court,” which is tasked with reviewing allegations of misconduct on campus. The student alleges the charge results from her talking to the media.
Gambill had spoken out to the press about her awful experience reporting sexual assault at the school she attends. Gambill says she was verbally and physically abused by her long-term boyfriend. After the relationship ended, she had to deal with stalking, threats and harassment from the ex-boyfriend. When she pressed charges at the Honor Court, she says she had to answer humiliating questions.
“The woman student said to me, ‘Landen, as a woman, I know that if that had happened to me, I would've broken up with him the first time it happened. Will you explain to me why you didn't?'" Gambill explained to The Daily Tar Heel, a student newspaper at UNC, in December 2012. The court also “implied that I was emotionally unstable and couldn't be telling the truth because I had attempted suicide.”
Gambill added: “It's incredibly clear that those people had no idea what sexual assault is, what consent is. They were not only offensive and inappropriate, but they were so victim-blaming. They made it seem like my assault was completely my fault.”
10 days after news of the federal complaint Gambill and Manning filed broke, “Landen received an email from Elizabeth Ireland, the Graduate & Professional Schools Student Attorney General, who wrote that she ‘received a report of a possible violation of the Honor Code on which you are listed as the reporting party,’” Jezebel notes. But Gambill says she did nothing wrong--she hasn’t even named her rapist, who lives across the street from her.
And then last Friday, Gambill received another e-mail from Ireland that said that sufficient evidence existed to refer the case to the Honor Court, though Ireland also said that being charged does mean she is guilty. The charges include “disruptive or intimidating behavior that willfully abuses, disparages, or otherwise interferes” with a student that “adversely affect their academic pursuits, opportunities for University employment, participation in University-sponsored extracurricular activities, or opportunities to benefit from other aspects of University Life.”
If the Honor Court finds Gambill guilty of “intimidating” her rapist, she could face a slew of consequences, including: loss of privileges on campus; a grade penalty; a written assignment; probation or suspension; and expulsion.
A preliminary Honor Court meeting with Gambill has taken place. Jezebel reports that the student “asked whether she could have violated the Honor Code simply by saying she was raped; the answer was yes.”
“This type of gross injustice is the reason why UNC students are speaking out and demanding answers,” Gambill told Jezebel. “The reason why i'm so vocal about this isn't because I just want justice for my case. I want to make sure no one else has to go through this if they want to report an assault to the university.”