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By Cayla Clements

After UNC-Chapel Hill was investigated by the U.S. Department of Education in 2013 for mistreating the cases of five female victims of sexual assault, the university decided to update and improve its sexual misconduct policy in 2014.

SafeatUNCWithin the policy, more legal rights are given to the victims and a larger emphasis on consent is made under any circumstance.

“I think the affirmative consent definition is incredibly important in the new policy and was a specific focus of the task force as they worked on these definitions,” said Christi Hurt, director of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Carolina Women’s Center and a key individual involved in the policy change.

Along with the updated policy, UNC-Chapel Hill has been directing students to a website that explains the policy and has a multitude of resources. However, three rising seniors at UNC-Chapel Hill are not very familiar with the site.

“I know that UNC has resources for me to reach out to,” said English and communications double major Ani Garrigo. “I know that they have counseling and campus services, but I didn’t know UNC had its own website.”

Matt Hoding and Sean Peterson both are aware of the website, but Peterson, a political science major with an entrepreneurship minor, does not know “as much as I probably should.”

Despite Garrigo, Hoding and Peterson rarely using the website, all three still feel generally safe on campus and all have taken measures to protect themselves if put in a dangerous situation, such as being mindful of their surroundings.

For example, Garrigo tries not to walk home alone at night, and if she has to, she will talk with someone on the phone.

Peterson tells his roommate Hoding when he will return home after going out alone.

Hoding, who is a public relations and sports administration double major, will drive his car to the library if he knows that he will be there late into the night and will offer rides to students who are out alone at night.

Both Peterson and Hoding acknowledge the fact that they are fortunate enough to not have to think about defending themselves too deeply.

“Luckily for me I’ve never had to think about that,” Hoding said. “I mean, male privilege one [reason] but two years I lived on campus so there were always lighted pathways if I was out late at night.”

Likewise, for Peterson’s demographics, he feels “extremely safe at this space—being a male on campus and being able to walk around freely where I know a lot of my female friends don’t necessarily feel as comfortable.”

A 2015 survey conducted by the Association of American Universities found that an average of 23 percent of female and 5 percent of male undergraduate seniors have experienced unwanted sexual contact. More than 150,000 students were surveyed at 27 U.S. universities. UNC-Chapel Hill participated in the study, and 24 percent women and 7 percent of men surveyed said they have experienced sexual assault on the campus.

Along with the release of the data, UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt commented,  “These issues are deeply concerning for all university leaders and society as a whole.” She believes that the study was a great opportunity because “learning more about what our students perceive and experience is vital to understanding how we can better address these issues.”

In addition, 25 percent of students believe sexual assault is very or extremely problematic at UNC-Chapel Hill, something Garrigo agrees with, believing that “all colleges are not doing a great job.”

“I think our justice system in general is not doing a great job of making victims feel safe or that they can report it,” she said.

However, Hurt said that although it is too soon to accurately measure the policy’s changes, the “the new policies have been met great support and enthusiasm.”