The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill announced Tuesday it would suspend the Honor Court proceeding against Landen Gambill, a sophomore who has criticized the school's handling of her sexual assault case and others. The pending Honor Court case was filed against Gambill by an unnamed ex-boyfriend, who she claims abused her.
In January, Gambill joined four other women in filing a federal complaint concerning the university's response to reports of sexual violence on campus. Gambill said she believes the present charges against her in the student-led Honor Court system were brought in retaliation for her speaking out.
Gambill's ex-boyfriend, who has never been named publicly, had filed charges against her in February in the Honor Court system, alleging she had created an "intimidating" environment for him on campus. Potential penalties for Gambill if she should be found guilty include expulsion.
"For several weeks, the University has grappled with how best to respond to a public claim of retaliation against the University while maintaining the autonomy and integrity of our Honor Court proceedings and the privacy of the individuals involved,” UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Holden Thorp wrote in an open letter to students, faculty and staff. "Recognizing the potential conflicts that may exist by allowing both processes to continue, we have asked the Student Attorney General to suspend the Honor Court proceeding pending an external review of these allegations of retaliation. The University takes all allegations of retaliation seriously, whether against an individual or an institution, and this allegation is no exception."
The university had previously said on multiple occasions that the administration has no say in Honor Court proceedings, denying the allegation that proceeding against Gambill was retaliatory.
However, Gambill's attorney Henry Clay Turner pointed out in a letter to Thorp on Monday that the chancellor "remains solely responsible for all matters of student discipline," including the Honor Court.
UNC-Chapel Hill currently faces two separate federal investigations into how the school addresses sexual assaults on campus.