The University has been fined $1.5 million by the U.S. Department of Education and ordered to make a list of corrections to come into compliance with the Clery Act, a federal statute that deals with educational institutions’ reporting of crime statistics.
UNC was cited for multiple “serious” violations of the act in a report made public last fall, which the government said resulted in “the institution’s systemic failure to provide students and employees with important campus crime information and services essential to their safety and security.”
The settlement between UNC and the government acknowledged that at the time of the complaint, UNC already had taken steps to resolve some issues.
In the settlement, UNC is required to engage in a complete reassessment of its procedures and protocols related to campus safety, crime prevention, fire safety and substance abuse prevention policies to ensure compliance with federal regulations governing UNC’s Title IV program participation.
In an investigation initiated by complaints over UNC’s handling of sexual assault claims in 2013, last fall’s report said the University failed to develop and implement an adequate compliance program, meaning it did not have adequate policies, procedures, programs, training initiatives and systems to comply with federal standards. It identified nine serious violations of the act that occurred from 2009 to 2012 and also in 2015.
The University, it said, did not issue timely warning for live threats, accurately compile and disclose crime statistics, follow institutional policy in a case of an alleged sex offense, retain records of potentially reportable crimes to the Honor Court, comply with Clery fire safety requirements, or apply Clery requirements to some buildings off the main campus.
The settlement says UNC has retained “a well-respected campus safety consultant” that has designed a Clery Act Program Support Plan for the University.
As part of the plan, the settlement says, the consultant will:
• Provide training to executives and practitioners;
• Coordinate the conduction of a self-study;
• Conduct a data audit to assess the accuracy and completeness of the University’s crime statistics and compliance with the timely warning and emergency notification provisions; and
• Assess the adequacy of existing campus safety and crime prevention policies, procedures and programs.
In a statement, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said: “Over the past year and a half, we have strengthened our public safety infrastructure, including hiring UNC Police Chief David Perry and creating the role of vice chancellor for integrity and risk management … to oversee critical safety and compliance functions. We engaged Margolis Healy, a nationally recognized campus safety consulting firm, to assess our campus processes and to make recommendations on how the University can more fully comply with federal crime reporting and fire safety rules.
“We also established a Campus Safety Commission to take a broad look at all aspects of community safety.”
The settlement says UNC will form a new Clery Compliance Committee that will include representation from all offices that are substantially involved in any aspect of the University’s campus safety, crime prevention, emergency management, environmental health and safety, student and employee conduct, and Title IX programs.
Each employee of the University will receive communication at the beginning of each semester “that encourages the reporting of suspected criminal activity and misconduct with a clear description of the options to report either directly or anonymously and an explanation of the University’s whistleblower protection policies and its efforts to protect employees from retaliation or intimidation.”
In consultation with its consultant, UNC officials responsible for management of real estate will engage in an institutionwide process to identify all buildings, properties and other parcels of land that UNC owns or controls to assist UNC in verifying that such buildings or parcels have been classified properly for Clery Act compliance purposes. UNC had been cited for not including some properties not contiguous to the main campus in its Clery program.
• “Reports of Sexual Assault Incidents Rise in New Survey,” October 2019
• Student’s Sexual Assault Claim Turns Attention to UNC Policy, September 2016
• University Refines Policies on Sexual Violence, August 2014
• “Sexual Assault and the Law,” cover story, November/December 2013 Carolina Alumni Review
• Carolina Creates Full-Time Title IX Post, Names Interim, April 2013
• Feds Will Probe Handling of Sexual Misconduct Case, March 2013
The Review received four CASE District 3 awards related to its November/December 2013 cover story, titled “Sexual Assault and the Law”:
• Grand Award in Graphic Design for the cover, seen at left. (The words inside the “I” of Title IX were from the letter from the U.S. Department of Education warning colleges to improve their prevention of and response to sexual assaults involving students. The words in the “X” were from essays about sexual violence featured in UNC’s The Courage Project.)
• Grand Award in Publications Writing
• Award of Excellence in Best Articles of the Year
• Special Merit Award in Feature Writing