University receives backlash after two sexual assault allegations

Campus Climate Communication forum lets students address officials directly after receiving no notification about two alleged sexual assaults

| February 28, 2017

University officials take questions from students about campus safety and communication. Photo by Alexandria Sands.

The Student Government Association (SGA) hosted a Campus Climate Communication Forum on Feb. 23 where students addressed concerns with campus officials after two sexual assault allegations against UNC Charlotte students came out earlier this month.

SGA Secretary for State and National Affairs Vincent Cahill facilitated the forum with Chief of Police Jeffrey Baker, Title IX Coordinator Jennifer Newell and Executive Director of University Communications Stephen Ward.

On Feb. 11, Joshua Arford was arrested after being accused of sexually assaulting another student in Holshouser Hall after he and the victim left an off-campus party together. The following weekend, former quarterback Kevin Olsen was arrested by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police for second-degree forcible rape.

“I think as a student at this university, I expect my university, required or not, to inform us… If we’re picking communication channels, I think we would all like it to come from our university whether or not it’s an imminent threat,” one student said during the forum.

Another student said, “I know for myself, I’m getting a call from my mom about something I don’t even know is happening.”

Ward said that the University doesn’t communicate when there is not an imminent threat but that students do have access to the information and that there are “ways you can find out.” He also said that Inside UNC Charlotte, the University’s online news portal, posted about Arford but it is no longer available. The statement on the Olsen case is still online since it was a “high profile incident.”

Students were upset that the incident that occurred on campus was not given as much attention by the University as the Olsen case.

Baker explained why Arford wasn’t an imminent threat, saying that after learning the identity of Arford while at the hospital, they immediately went to the residence hall where he was and took him into custody.

“He wasn’t walking around the campus. He was not available to anyone because we knew his name. We knew exactly where he was,” Baker said. “Let’s say we went to the hospital and didn’t know the exact, specific identity of the suspect. We would immediately send an alert to the campus community. Immediately.”

Ward said that students should be aware that University Communications is directly involved in the process of alerting the media about these issues.

According to Ward, a University Communications survey showed that students prefer to receive information from first e-mail and then Inside UNC Charlotte and the LiveSafe App.

A few minutes prior to the forum, Chancellor Philip L. Dubois sent a letter to students, parents, faculty and staff about the incidents.

“We do not tolerate sexual harassment and assault and place a priority on educating our campus members on prevention and creating awareness around consent, bystander intervention and reporting options,” Dubois said.

In the email, Dubois explained why no students were notified about Arford’s arrest.

“When a serious crime occurs on campus and it is believed there is an imminent threat to the safety of the campus community, a campus alert is issued.  However, if a potential threat is averted or neutralized, such as by an arrest, we do not issue campus alerts,” Dubois said.

Dubois also said that students will be hearing from him in the coming weeks about changes being made to how the community receives information from the University.

Newell asked that students complete the campus safety survey that will be sent out after spring break.

The Niner Times will be posting the crime blotter online from this point on.

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Category:Campus, Crime, News, SGA

Alexandria Sands Alexandria is the News Editor for the Niner Times. She is a sophomore Communications major with a minor in Journalism. Alexandria has written and taken photographs for the Oak Island-Southport area newspaper, The State Port Pilot. She is a graduate of the Academy of Information Technology within Apex High School.

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Alexandria Sands Alexandria is the News Editor for the Niner Times. She is a sophomore Communications major with a minor in Journalism. Alexandria has written and taken photographs for the Oak Island-Southport area newspaper, The State Port Pilot. She is a graduate of the Academy of Information Technology within Apex High School.