A college sophomore attending the University of North Carolina is being sent to the university’s “Honor Court” and could potentially be expelled for speaking out about her rape.
Representatives of the university are charging Landen Gambill with an Honor Code violation that states she has been “disruptive” or “intimidating” toward another, her rapist, and has “adversely” affected his life by going public with her story of sexual assault, even though Gambill has not publicly identified the man accused of the act.
It’s suspected by some that UNC’s action toward Gambill is one of revenge. The student’s story first became known to officials following a case against the university in which a former assistant dean accused UNC of intentionally under-reporting sexual assault cases. Gambill provided evidence to support the former dean’s case.
After they story went public, Gambill addressed the failures of the UNC system, having said they “were not only offensive and inappropriate, but they were so victim-blaming … They made it seem like my assault was completely my fault.”
It’s also alleged that the school may have attempted to leverage a recent suicide attempt by Gambill, something that happened after the assault, against her.
According to ThinkProgress, Gambill received her first warning from a university attorney on January 29. On February 22, Gambill was formally called in to Honor Court with a formal accusation stating:
“Accordingly, you are being charged with the following Honor Code violation(s):
“II.C.1.c. – Disruptive or intimidating behavior that willfully abuses, disparages, or otherwise interferes with another (other than on the basis of protected classifications identified and addressed in the University’s Policy on Prohibited Harassment and Discrimination) 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.
“This decision was reached because the evidence provides a reasonable basis to believe that a violation of the Honor Code may have occurred. Please note that being charged with a violation does not imply guilt. It simply means that sufficient evidence of a possible violation exists to warrant a hearing before the Undergraduate Honor Court.”
UNC Honor Code also states that rape falls under “the University’s Policy on Prohibited Harassment,” but Gambill’s rapist still attends the university, and in fact, lives across the street from the young woman.
Jezebel reported that Gambill attended a preliminary Honor Court meeting and asked officials if she could have violated the Honor Code simply by saying she was raped; the university’s response — yes. Gambill said:
“This type of gross injustice is the reason why UNC students are speaking out and demanding answers… The reason why I’m so vocal about this isn’t because I just want justice for my case. I want to make sure no one else has to go through this if they want to report an assault to the university.”
College rape, according to the Department of Justice, is estimated to affect 20 to 25 percent of women. It’s also estimated that nearly 30 percent of women contemplate suicide following the event.