Chapel Hill Drops Case Against Student Who Complained of Sexual Assault

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has dropped a case in its student-led honor court against a student who spoke out about sexual assault on the campus, The News & Observer reported.

The student, Landen Gambill, faced discipline for allegedly intimidating a fellow student who she said had sexually assaulted her. She was one of five women who filed federal complaints this year over the institution’s handling of sex-assault cases. The university said in March that it would suspend the honor-court case against Ms. Gambill, pending an independent review of her accusation that the university was retaliating against her for speaking out.

That review, conducted by Barbara A. Lee, a Rutgers University professor who is an expert on sexual-harassment grievances, “found no evidence that the university retaliated against the student,” H. Holden Thorp, Chapel Hill’s chancellor, said in a written statement.

Mr. Thorp added that the review had brought into “sharp focus” concerns about the honor-code provision on intimidation under which Ms. Gambill was charged, and said he agreed with a recommendation that no student be charged with violating that provision until it was reviewed by a campus committee. He said all cases involving that provision, including Ms. Gambill’s, would be dismissed.

The university’s action, Mr. Thorp said, “is not a challenge to the important role of students in our Honor System, but is intended to protect the free-speech rights of our students.”

The newspaper obtained a copy of a report describing the findings of the review conducted by Ms. Lee. The report stated that Ms. Gambill’s case “exposed the problems inherent in a student-led system over which administrators and faculty have very little control.”

Mr. Thorp said the honor court was a university tradition dating back more than 100 years, and added that he was confident that the campus could “work together to help develop solutions that work for the whole Carolina community.

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