When Andrea Pino was raped at an off-campus party while she was a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she didn’t think her experience would be the catalyst to bring about a new way for universites and colleges around the country to cope with sexual assault. Initially, when Pino tried to take advantage of the tools which are supposed to be open to victims around the UNC campus, she was turned away. Her academic adviser wouldn’t help with her academic load when the trauma managed to get too difficult to maintain, and even other students discouraged her from reporting her rape towards the police, saying that nothing could be done anyway.
According to Inside Advanced schooling, there the matter might have remained if Pino hadn’t been appointed like a member of the committee vetting candidates for that post from the school’s Title IX Coordinator. Throughout the search, she remarked that Chapel Hill wasn’t fulfilling a lot of its obligations under Title IX, and the basis for the federal complaint to the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights was born.
But it wasn\’t the problems at UNC that led Pino to help write the federal complaint which was largely responsible for pushing a nationwide watershed moment for sexual assault on college campuses into the national spotlight. It was the subsequent realization the situation at UNC was not even close to unique.
\”I realized the UNC complaint is so much bigger than UNC,\” Pino said. \”It\’s something which has been happening for a long time.\”
IHE’s Allie Grasgreen explains the complaint did more than bring government scrutiny to the process schools around the country use to handle sexual assault allegations. It also brought attention to the issue and galvanized the students into uniting and launching protests on their own campuses to demand change.
The student population at America’s colleges embraced the problem, and from Pino’s efforts to the OCR’s follow-up, the problem of sexual assault and student safety on campus has remained
While students are largely responsible for pushing this issue into the public consciousness, it had been OCR that sternly reminded colleges there\’d be consequences for not complying with Title IX from the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination in schools and colleges based on sex. When OCR announced it might be cracking recorded on colleges that didn’t fulfill their obligations under Title IX, which includes requirements for policies and operations in sexual assault cases, it was simultaneously beginning a study of Yale University. In that case that garnered national attention, students filed a federal complaint alleging that Yale didn\’t eliminate a hostile campus environment after fraternity members chanted “No means yes, yes means anal” outside a campus women’s center.