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UNC forms task force to revise sexual misconduct policies

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been under fire in recent months for their handling of on-campus sexual assaults and now the school has formed a 21-member task force to review the school's policies.

The university released a statement Wednesday describing the task force as a way to "review and enhance its policies and procedures for handling student-on-student complaints of harassment, sexual misconduct or discrimination."

Beginning this summer, the task force will meet weekly to review the current policy, which was revised during the 2011-2012 academic year. The policy was revised in 2011 due to new guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

"I think there's always room for improvement," said Task Force chairwoman, Kristi Hurt.

The Office for Civil Rights is currently conducting a federal investigation into UNC's alleged mishandling of sexual abuse cases.

Hurt says the task force will incorporate feedback the university has received during recent months.

Last year, students and former Dean of Students, Melinda Manning filed a complaint alleging the university was under reporting sexual assault cases.

Hurt says the task force will "make sure we are doing all of our due diligence to make sure every case that the university is aware of is fully reported."

Hurt said the number of cases the university reports to the Department of Education, as required by law, could increase as a result of the task force.

"When you see an increase in reporting numbers it doesn't always mean more assaults are happening it often means more people feel safe to engage in these systems," said Hurt.

The task force will present its recommendations at the end of the summer to Ann Penn, the university's Equal Opportunity/Americans with Disabilities Act officer.

The university has created a web site where the public can follow the task force's progress and submit ideas and recommendations.

WNCN contacted the students Thursday who filed the federal complaint alongside Manning but they declined to comment on the university's announcement.

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