Carolina will invest $2 million over the next 5 years to focus on sexual assault prevention, intervention and support, Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz announced Tuesday at the 2020 Summit on Safety and Belonging.
“There’s nothing more important than campus safety,” said Guskiewicz, “We have to create a climate where our students are safe, especially in respect to sexual violence.”
Organized by the Campus Safety Commission, the Summit brought together stakeholders from across the University to discuss the takeaways from the 13 listening sessions the Commission hosted last fall, as well as to present recommendations on how Carolina can enhance safety for all members of the community.
“We want this to be an inflection point,” said Commission co-chair and political science professor Frank Baumgartner. “We want to change from simply listening and acknowledging, and move forward with some reforms and ideas and innovations that will let us move to a new place.”
Comments from the listening sessions was organized into six themes: Police behavior during protest events; sexual violence and danger; communications; physical safety; anti-racist activism; and safety of marginalized communities. Each theme was presented by a panelist from the Safety Commission, along with recommendations for addressing these themes.
“The University is experiencing a crisis of trust,” Commission co-chair and resiliency and student support programs coordinator DeVetta Holman said. “So if there is mistrust, we have to address the causes of that head on.”
Among the Commission’s recommendations: an independent civilian oversight board for the UNC Police Department; additional training for UNC Police Officers; enhanced funding for campus safety measures; and the creation of a speaker series to address issues of history, race and belonging.
“As we stop listening and start doing, we’ll start to make some serious accomplishments,” Baumgartner said.
University officials noted several safety enhancements that have been implemented on campus over the past several months, including a $5 million Build Our Community Together Fund; the installation of locks and safety features in many classrooms, enhanced lighting across campus and the continued work of the Mental Health Taskforce in improving access to mental health resources.
Guskiewicz also noted that campus safety and community building efforts will be the responsibility of not just the Commission, but also the newly announced Commission on History, Race and a Way Forward and a new Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion, who will also be the University’s chief diversity officer.
“I want to be a servant leader— to make decisions with, not just for the UNC Community,” Guskiewicz tweeted after the event. “Tonight’s discussion was an important step in that direction.”