Campus News

Leaders praise advisory group’s recommendations on violence prevention

The first report by the UNC Gender-Based Violence Prevention Advisory Group will guide the new senior prevention strategy officer who will be hired this year.

Photo by Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill

Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Equal Opportunity and Compliance Becci Menghini praised the UNC Gender-Based Violence Prevention Advisory Group’s first report as “a great springboard” to guide a new senior prevention strategy officer when that position is filled later this year.

The 80-page report, discussed at the group’s Feb. 22 meeting, was the first charge of the advisory group, convened in June 2020 with 18 students, staff and faculty, most with expertise in violence prevention. In the report, the advisory group reviews the University’s 2017 Recommendations Report from the Violence Prevention Task Force and its recommendations in light of the current climate and best practices, describes recommendations already implemented and provides a plan and timeline for implementing others.

The group submitted the report in January to Human Resources and Student Affairs leadership, who came to the meeting to give their feedback.

“The time was right for us to say what about that [2017] report makes sense and how do we move from that report being full of ideas into what are the things that we should actually do,” Menghini said. “You have done some incredible work in positioning us and, probably more specifically, the incoming senior prevention officer to really pick up and move this forward.”

Katie Nolan, executive director of strategy, policy and special projects in Human Resources and Equal Opportunity and Compliance, praised a recommendation to have “representatives in each of the schools that can be ambassadors for awareness and maintain the grassroots momentum in all schools.”

“That’s also important at the leadership level with the various elements of the chancellor’s cabinet and in leadership — to really make everybody an ally,” Nolan said.

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Amy Johnson appreciated the section on benchmarking violence prevention programs at other UNC System institutions. “There’s some consistency and parallelism in terms of kinds of things the schools are doing, but also the fact that institutions are developing or creating flavors of some of these that are appropriate to the culture and nature of their particular institution,” she said.

Commitment to safety

Discussion of the group’s report focused on the need to share it broadly on campus and particularly with senior leadership and members of the chancellor’s cabinet. Members emphasized the need for infrastructure and financial support for the recommendations and the staff to implement them.

“You all know we’re in a little bit of a tough spot financially,” Menghini told the group. “But you all know that we’ve made a commitment to this space as an institution, and we’ll work to figure out how we prioritize resources both human and financial.”

The convening of the advisory group and the creation of the new position of prevention strategy officer are part of Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz’s commitment to invest $2 million over the next five years to focus on sexual assault prevention, intervention and support, announced at the 2020 Summit on Safety and Belonging in January 2020.

The fact that the Carolina moved forward with hiring a prevention strategy officer at a time when pandemic conditions had frozen most University hiring underscores its importance. Based in Student Affairs, the senior prevention strategy officer will develop a cross-campus strategy for prevention of interpersonal violence, including sexual assault and harassment, dating and domestic violence and stalking. The new officer will chair the advisory group and will be responsible for providing updates on its recommendations.

Four finalists for the position will make public presentations over Zoom describing their strategies to prevent interpersonal violence on campus and will answer questions submitted in advance. The first candidate’s presentation was earlier today (Feb. 23) and the others are scheduled for 9 a.m. March 2, March 5 and March 8. (Visit the search website for more information on how to participate.)