Sophomore Landen Gambill of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is now facing possible expulsion for “intimidating” her alleged rapist.
Gambill went to Honor Court to press charges against her ex-boyfriend from her freshmen year, who she said was regularly abusive. But the Honor Court, which found the man not guilty, gave her an unfair trial, she said.
“They were not only offensive and inappropriate, but they were so victim-blaming,” she told the Daily Tar Heel. “They made it seem like my assault was completely my fault.”
Last month, Gambill along with three other students and former UNC Assistant Dean of Students Melinda Manning filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights against the university. The report claimed that the university pressured Manning into under-reporting cases of sexual assault, violating the Campus Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights, the Clery Act and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and other equal opportunity mandates.
Gambill received notification Friday from Elizabeth Ireland, the graduate and professional schools student attorney general, that she is being charged with violating the UNC honor code and needs to appear once again in front of the Honor Court. The email states that the court believes it has evidence that Gambill has acted in ways that are “disruptive or intimidating behavior that willfully abuses, disparages or otherwise interferes with another so as to 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.”
Gambill said, though, that she has never publicly identified the accused. At a preliminary Honor Court meeting, she was told that she could be in violation of the honor code simply by saying she was raped. If she is found guilty, she could receive a number of punishments ranging from a written warning to expulsion.
A similar situation would be unlikely to happen on Duke’s campus, said junior Stefani Jones, Duke Student Government vice president for equity and outreach and a leading advocate for the campaign leading to Duke’s repeal of the statute of limitations for student sexual misconduct. Jones added that the controversy offers an opportunity to reflect.
“The incident at UNC highlights just how important it is for universities and students to be looking for ways to prevent and address sexual assault on campus. Victim-blaming and a poor institutional response are inexcusable,” she said. “We’ve done a lot of work on our campus this year, specifically in repealing the statute of limitations on our reporting policy, to give victims additional support. There’s a lot more to be done, though.”
Honor Council Chair Michael Habashi, a senior, also expressed that he did not believe a case like this could happen at Duke.
“The student conduct process at Duke is one in which the student is treated with respect,” he said. “We’ve created an infrastructure where students feel empowered in that room [with the Student Conduct Board] and have the outside resources they need as well.”
Jones added that she along with the DSG Committee for Equity and Outreach have been working to address gender-based violence with a Gender Task Force, which would seek to approach the issue of sexual assault holistically, and start a program which would provide academic support to victims.
Editor's Note: This article, including the headline, has been changed to reflect the fact that the man accused of sexual assault by Gambill was found not guilty by the UNC Honor Court. Gambill maintains that the man raped her.