At the request of its Chancellor, the University of North Carolina (UNC) Honor Court has suspended proceedings against sophomore Landen Gambill. Gambill was accused of “intimidating behavior” towards her rapist after speaking out about her assault, despite the fact that she never publicly identified her assailant. She filed a lawsuit on Monday, alleging that the University unlawfully retaliated against her for speaking out.
After reporting her case, UNC’s student-led Honor Court decided that Gambill’s assailant was not guilty, and later charged her with violating the honor code, after her rapist filed a complaint accusing her of intimidation. UNC’s Chancellor, Holden Thorp, released a message to students yesterday in response to the issue:
For several weeks, the University has grappled with how best to respond to a public claim of retaliation against the University while maintaining the autonomy and integrity of our Honor Court proceedings and the privacy of the individuals involved. Recognizing the potential conflicts that may exist by allowing both processes to continue, we have asked the Student Attorney General to suspend the Honor Court proceeding pending an external review of these allegations of retaliation. The University takes all allegations of retaliation seriously, whether against an individual or an institution, and this allegation is no exception.
It is disturbing that the University is only now taking measures to address Gambill’s situation with the Honor Court, in light of her filing another complaint (the third complaint filed against UNC this year regarding sexual assault). It is also disturbing that the school’s Honor Court was responsible for dealing with a sexual assault case, rather than the crime being handled by the police.
Alisha Mims is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.