Expelled for Speaking Out About Rape?

Last February Landen Gambill decided to take action against her ex-boyfriend, who she says raped and stalked her throughout their long-term relationship. Now the 19-year-old is being threatened with possible expulsion from her college for creating an “intimidating” environment for her alleged abuser—and she’s gearing up to fight back.

Gambill was a freshman at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill when she took her case to the school’s honor court—a judicial body made up of five undergraduates—trying to avoid the emotional toll of a criminal trial. At the time, she says, she hoped to simply get a no-contact order to keep her ex-boyfriend away from her. Instead, she says, she endured a hearing that spanned 28 hours, in which she claims she was grilled about why she didn’t leave her boyfriend sooner and was scolded for “showing emotion on her face.” Gambill says she was asked loaded questions like, “Why didn’t you break up with him?” and “Why didn’t you fight back harder?”

“I had really high expectations of UNC as a liberal university,” Gambill says. “[I thought] they were going to support me as a survivor and as someone who’s in a relationship with sexual abuse. I was totally let down.”

What’s worse, she says, a detailed account of the alleged abuse, which she had submitted as evidence, was given to her parents without her permission by a student representative—because, in Gambill’s words, he “ just thought they should know.”