Your options after an abuse of power
When faced with an abuse of power, determining your next steps can be daunting. Our department has made great strides in making those next steps easier with the departmental reporting form. This form can be submitted with your name attached or anonymously and asks what steps the grievance committee can take on your behalf. It serves as a good catch-all for beginning to address issues within the department.
At the same time, we recognize that many victims need direct control over their story and the actions taken on their behalf. To that end, we’ve also provided a list of definitions as well as lists of internal and external resources as an easy reference for what different kinds of reporting might look like. This can be used to better understand the flowchart of the departmental reporting form, or to choose directly who to approach. For those who would rather approach other folks directly, we’ve also compiled tables of options for students and staff, their position in or out of the department, and the type of action they might take.
Options for Students
Options for Staff
An employee required to report certain activities/situations to the EOC office, including:
- Instances of harassment (sexual or otherwise)
- Instances of assault (sexual or otherwise)
- Instances of stalking, cyberstalking, or retaliation
Responsible employees include faculty and staff who oversee undergraduate or postdoctoral workers, the Department Chair, and the Director of Graduate Studies, as well as most higher administration. Responsible employees are denoted in our definitions below.
Information shared in conversation with a private resource may be disclosed to “relevant” parties, including but not limited to:
- The EOC office
- UNC police
Information shared in conversation with a confidential resource will not be disclosed to any other party except in the following cases:
- Disclosure of child or elder abuse
- Disclosure of intent to harm self or others
Confidential resources are not responsible employees.
Inside Department Resources
SSC members serve as confidential peer resources who are happy to connect you with other resources, provide support, or just listen. Our hope is that in being members of the graduate student population, you might already know and feel comfortable talking with one of us. Regardless, we are here to provide support in a nonofficial role; meeting with any of us does not obligate you to take any further action. Find our member list here.
These are faculty members who you are in positive and friendly contact with, who can advocate for you on your behalf. If they hire undergraduates or post-docs, trusted faculty are probably responsible employees. We advise you ask if they are a responsible employee before disclosing information you do not wish to be made known to the EOC office.
- Undergraduate students: Academic advisor, undergraduate research advisor
- Graduate students: Primary advisor, Committee Chair, other committee members
- Post-docs: primary advisor, other faculty mentors, department chair
A trusted faculty member could help mediate a dispute between you and another department member, provide advice on further resources or courses of action, or take your case to the department chair on your behalf.
This faculty member is elected by the faculty to serve as the active department chair of Biology for multiple years (currently Kerry Bloom). The chair is a responsible employee and required to report to the EOC office.
The chair has the authority to take direct actions and meet with other faculty members, HR and members of the Dean’s Office.
The office of Postdoctoral Affairs offers resources to support and promote postdoctoral training and to help prepare postdocs for successful research careers. They offer confidential crisis intervention and advising, consultations on mentoring relationships, postdoc rights, and policy issues.
Meeting with a team member of the postdoc office is an opportunity to discuss the specific resources available to postdoctoral researchers. You can find their site here.
The Office of Human Resources offers resources pertaining to university employees. On their website, you can find various forms relating to employment, payroll, benefits, leave, etc. The Employee and Management Relations Unit can provide confidential consultation to both employees and University management, and can provide conflict management services. Grievance forms can also be filed by employees, and disciplinary action can be taken by the Human Resources Office in certain cases.
The Biology Department HR Specialist is Jennifer Mackey. Her office is in 203A Coker Hall, and her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Outside Department Resources
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is a confidential resource offering support, mental health services, and further resources. They are located in the Campus Health building on the 3rd floor. Appointments can be made with CAPS staff online or on the phone, and they take walk-ins as well.
Talking with a CAPS staff member could help you work through difficult decision-making, provide you with different campus resource options, and/or schedule follow-up mental health visits. Find their site here.
The Ombuds Office is a confidential resource that can help you discuss your options and direct you to resources for any variety of concern or conflict. The Office exists outside of the University power structure, meaning they are independent and impartial. Their office is located on Franklin St. and they have walk-in hours, along with traditional appointments.
A visit to the Ombuds Office will entail a consultation with an ombuds, who will listen to your concerns and help you decide what course of action you would like to take by providing resources and support. More information and directions on how to schedule an appointment can be found here.
The Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office offers resources relating to discrimination, employee accomodations and educational training and awareness regarding inclusion and diversity. This office receives reports of incidents that violate UNC’s non-discrimination policies. Reports are shared with a response team that can involve UNC Department Public Safety, the Office of the Dean of Students, the Office of Human Resources, and/or the Office of the Provost, depending on the situation. You can find their site at eoc.unc.edu.
The University Police are responsible for law-enforcement services such as investigating reports of harassment and criminal activity. They implement the laws of North Carolina for the University campus. They do not intervene for matters that do not violate civil or criminal code.
Hiring a lawyer or attorney can be a good plan of action if the situation violates local, state, or federal laws. Two good resources for finding someone to represent you include Legal Aid NC and the NC Advocates for Justice Find a Lawyer Directory.