University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student Landen Gambill decided to go to court and report sexual abuse against a former boyfriend and now faces the risk of expulsion for violating the University’s honor code. Meanwhile, her attacker was found not guilty, was temporarily suspended and received a letter of discipline.
This case is one among other 64 rape cases that have emerged from UNC that make the victims hide in shame.
According to an interview Gambill did with The Daily Beast, the school’s honor court, which is made up of five undergraduate UNC students, interrogated her with heavy questions as to why she stayed in the relationship and then lectured her for not fighting hard enough against her attacker.
The University should stop scolding and interrogating rape victims with irrelevant questions that do not help determine if the alleged rapist is guilty or not.
UNC at Chapel Hill’s student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, reported that the honor court used Gambill’s past records of clinical depression and attempted suicide against her; both of which were a result of sexual abuse.
This is not the 19th century where rape victims did not come out in fear of being labeled “not pure” or blamed for “seducing” their attacker. The only person responsible is the abuser, not the victim.
UNC also accused Gambill of creating a hostile school environment for her former boyfriend by coming out and accusing him. This is unfair on the grounds that both Gambill and her roommate testified that the still unnamed attacker would come to their room up to seven times a day looking for his victim.
By giving Gambill a harsher punishment than her rapist, UNC is labeling her with a scarlet letter.
According to The Daily Tar Heel, the honor court dismissed the case after sexual assault was removed from its jurisdiction in August 2012, months after Gambill’s accusation. This is what prompted Gambill to come out in public with her case.
Letting the attacker off easy makes prospective rapists think they can get away with their crime, as well as corners victims with fear of not being believed.
UNC and other colleges need to stop silencing rape victims and give rapists the appropriate punishment for their crime.
Acknowledging the problem and having a zero tolerance policy toward any type of sex crimes is the first step to reducing rape in college campuses. Ignoring victims does not help a college’s reputation; on the contrary, an institution that stands by its victims and encourages them to speak up would garner a higher respect from parents and students.