PFN members ask UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Thorpe to act now on sexual assault- and sexual harassment- related allegations

In response to student and staff complaints to the U.S. Federal Department of Education on Wednesday 1/17 that UNC-CH had ignored and/or mishandled cases of sexual assault and harassment on campus, (see full article in the UNC-CH Daily Tar Heel here: http://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2013/01/5-submit-complaint-against-unc-over-sexual-assault), members of the Progressive Faculty Network are writing letters to UNC-CH Chancellor Thorpe requesting information and quick action.  Here are some of our letters:

Dear Chancellor Thorp,

Given what is reported in this morning’s Tar Heel and alleged in the complaint against UNC to the U.S. Department of Education[,] I respectfully request that you immediately place [UNC administrators and legal staff]  Jonathan Sauls, Winston Crisp, Leslie Strohm, and Kara Simmons on administrative leave–or ask for their resignations.

It is bad enough to hear about the terrible treatment the sexual assault victims received, but the alleged actions of those who tried to stop Melinda Manning from reporting those crimes and from improving the university’s policies is unconscionable as well as illegal.

If our university is to be perceived as having any integrity–and as being at all a safe place for women to work or study–you must act quickly and decisively.

Altha Cravey,  Associate Professor, UNC Geography Department

Dear Chancellor Thorp,

As a faculty member, HAVEN advocate, and member of the UNC Chapel Hill community, I am saddened, outraged, and frustrated after reading (in today’s DTH) about former dean Melinda Manning’s treatment by her supervisor, Jonathan Sauls, and other administrators at UNC Chapel Hill.

Every semester I have at least one student tell me about a sexual assault that either the student has experienced or that his/her roommate/friend has experienced here at UNC Chapel Hill.  When I was an undergraduate at UC Santa Barbara in the late 1980s, 2 of my roommates were victims of sexual assault my junior year of college.  In college I did not have a single friend who didn’t know someone who had been raped‹and unfortunately I knew (and continue to know) too many women who had experienced sexual violence directly.

This has to end.  We have to end the culture of silence and intimidation and lack of support that is described in the DTH article.  We need to provide as much support–concrete, emotional, and legal support–to victims of sexual violence.  We need to end rape culture.

To that end, one thing you can do is to immediately place Jonathan Sauls, Winston Crisp, Leslie Strohm, and Kara Simmons on administrative leave‹or ask for their resignations.

This will not solve the problem of sexual violence at UNC Chapel Hill, but sending a strong message that you, as our campus leader, will not tolerate any members of the UNC Chapel Hill community to violate the trust and respect of women who are victims of sexual assault is one small step we can take to changing the climate on our campus.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Ho, Associate Professor, Department of English & Comparative Literature UNC Chapel Hill

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