Rape Victim Says University Targeted Her For Going Public

Written by Tara Culp-Ressler

The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill is now facing a third federal investigation into its sexual assault policies.

This time, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating allegations that UNC inappropriately retaliated against Landen Gambill, a sophomore at the university, after she publicly came forward about her rape.

Gambill was one of several students who filed a federal complaint against the university at the beginning of the year, alleging UNC has created a “hostile environment” for rape victims attempting to report sexual crimes.

In February, the sophomore faced an honor code violation that claimed she “intimidated” her alleged rapist by publicly sharing the story of her sexual assault — even though she never named him, simply referring to him as an “ex-boyfriend.”

Later that year, even after the male student in question had been found guilty of sexually harassing Gambill, he was reassigned to a dorm building “in close proximity” to hers.

The new investigation will attempt to determine whether those two actions — subjecting Gambill to UNC’s honor court and moving Gambill’s assailant closer to her — constitute inappropriate retaliation. The honor code charge against Gambill, which could have resulted in her expulsion, has since been dropped.

At the end of April, after students on several different college campuses filed formal complaints against their administrations, federal officials reminded universities that they’re not allowed to retaliate against students who speak up about sexual assault.

“Individuals should be commended when they raise concerns about compliance with the federal civil rights laws, not punished for doing so,” the U.S. Department of Education reiterated in a “Dear Colleague” letter distributed to universities.

UNC has repeatedly denied that it took any actions to target Gambill after she began speaking up about the university’s sexual assault policy. University officials confirm they will cooperate with the third federal investigation.

Over the past year, UNC has faced significant backlash from its student body about its mistreatment of rape survivors.

In May, the university formed a task force to review and reform the current sexual assault policy. Since Gambill and her fellow activists have gone on to support a network of student advocates working to combat rape culture on their own campuses, similar slow progress is being made at other universities as well.

This post was originally published at ThinkProgress.

Photo from Thinkstock


Stacey Toda
Stacey Toda3 years ago

It's terrible how campus's what to play the "blame the victim" card to try and avoid taking responsibility

Cletus W.
Cletus W.3 years ago

I just returned to read Cyan's EXTREMELY ignorant post on here. Her unapologetic neo-nazi approach to life should be a sign to all of us of the malignancy that is afoot in our fine nation.

Kevin B., Let me take a crack at this: I think what you are trying to tell Cyan is that she wouldn't know a true conservative if one shat on her empty head. So true...so true....

PrimaAWAY B.
PrimaAWAY B.3 years ago

Thank You for posting. I think this is disgusting what happened to this poor girl. I see signed like there should be a petition and I do not see a petition posted here at all. Maybe I'm missing it but I did sign one that looks like it would have been related to this post.

Maria Virokhovsky

Haha, Cyan, loved it!!! How about this - don't want to get charged with rape? Don't have sex, ever! Will serve you right.

Franck Rio
Frank R.3 years ago


Karen H.
Karen H.3 years ago

Petition signed.
Cyan, I should have just as much right to walk across campus at night as any male student. Having sex with my boyfriend shouldn’t invite rape—from him or anyone else. Don't further blame a woman if she's raped. She already blames herself for not being vigilant enough or strong enough or ...
If schools don't comply with the law, we need to get that information out to prospective students. How can high school seniors find out if the college they've chosen will help or hinder if anything happens to them?
And like I said before, if a school is non-compliant, boycott their sports teams. Hit them where it hurts. No support, no money.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

Cyan said "There is course work and/or degrees and workships in sexuality at most universities. Don't want to get raped on campus? Don't go alone to a male's dorm room, or fraternity, don't walk alone at night in the dark, don't have sex with a boyfriend."

Jesus Cyan you make me sick with your "blame the victim" mentality. Yeah, if women would just stay at home they would not be getting raped all the time, right?

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

Cyan - In your deluded mind everything that is not Liberty University or Oral Roberts University is a "liberal university." I always love how you right wing types are always pontificating about "liberal this" and "liberal that" when you don't know the first damn thing about what you are talking about.

BMutiny TCorporationsEvil

"Trigger warning: this petition contains information about sexual assault that may be upsetting to survivors.

We are members of a group of hundreds of students and recent graduates fighting sexual violence at colleges and universities, driven by our own experiences of assault, harassment, and abuse on campus. Many of us filed complaints with the Department of Education's Office of Civil rights because we feel our schools broke federal law by refusing to protect us either before or after we were assaulted. In fact, the Department of Education has only ever publicly found one school to be in noncompliance with the law, even though a recent study suggests nearly two thirds of colleges in America don't comply.

We started this petition to demand that the Department of Education step up to hold colleges and universities publicly accountable for complying with federal law about protecting survivors of sexual assault like us."
PETITION to hold colleges ACCOUNTABLE.

BMutiny TCorporationsEvil

PETITION: HOLD COLLEGES ACCOUNTABLE that refuse to protect Students from Sexual Assault.
This is the URL: