This past Monday, UNC's Department of Public Safety sent out a campus-wide email to inform/warn students and faculty that charges were brought against a non-student who allegedly falsely accused a student of rape. It came as a shock to many because the school hadn't told anyone that there was a potential rapist on campus. As student Sarah-Kathryn Bryan writes in a letter to The Daily Tarheel, "What significant interest should a false report have for the Carolina community that a sexual assault does not?" It's a good question — especially for a school with such a terrible history of sweeping sexual assault under the rug.
Here's the campus-wide notice sent by UNC's DPS:
No Alert Carolina notification was made in the wake of the alleged incident because there was no imminent threat to the University community and because issuing such a notice would have compromised the integrity of the investigation.
The UNC Department of Public Safety takes all reports of sexual assault seriously, however a thorough investigation determined that the testimony provided by the reporting party was false, and charges were filed on Monday (April 8).
While false rape reports are a HUGE deal, and not something to be taken lightly, it's more than a little weird that the Department of Public Safety didn't notify the campus when a member of the student body was being investigated on charges of rape. Their excuses about no imminent threat to the community and compromising the integrity of the investigation are questionable considering how they've handled things in the past.
Honestly, the excuses read like a piss poor effort to explain their way around (again) violating the federal Clery Act — which requires universities to issue timely warnings if a crime is reported and if officials believe a public safety concern exists — before anyone brought it up.
UNC's laundry list of negligence and ineptitude when dealing with victims of sexual assault is unfortunately becoming legendary — they have their former dean of students saying she was forced by the university's counsel office to underreport sexual assault cases, and they've threatened a rape victim with expulsion for speaking to the press. Because of those and other allegations, the school is currently facing three federal complaints and two investigations.
Many UNC professors and students are rightfully outraged about the mishandling of sexual assault cases at the school, and they're meeting to discuss courses of action.
"I don't understand why someone in the chain of command can't own up and take responsibility," Altha J. Cravey, an associate professor in the school's geography department, told Huffington Post. "Our top administrators seem to be solely concerned with the UNC brand and not concerned about human lives. Don't they realize that they are actively destroying the UNC brand by their own failure to create a safe environment for all students?"
Another professor, Jay Smith of the Department of History, said "It's like Groundhog day in Chapel Hill, because our leaders seem chronically unable to get out of their own way."
It's exciting to see the bright and brave students and teachers at UNC speak out about their administrations egregious failings — and make plans to bring them to task. Because it's a damn shame that UNC officials have problems reporting real rape to students and authorities, but sending campus-wide emails warning about a false one gives them no pause. The way things are now, the students are certainly learning something about the culture we live in — and it's not good.