UNCSA Lawsuit & Response

UNCSA Lawsuit & Response

UNCSA alumni lawsuit settlement

Dear UNCSA Community, 

The UNC System, UNCSA and attorneys for the claimants have announced a settlement agreement that will resolve claims and end litigation brought by 65 alumni in late 2021 alleging sexual misconduct and abuse at UNCSA primarily during the 1970s-1990s. The survivors’ claims will be resolved by the payment of $12.5 million over four years, split between the UNC System ($10 million) and UNCSA ($2.5 million).

Though this resolution cannot heal the wounds of the past, it is my deep hope that through it, the survivors who came forward feel our commitment to listening, acknowledging and doing right by them. This has without a doubt been a dark time for UNCSA as we came to terms with accounts of sexual abuse, and we honor the courage it took for these alumni to share their experiences. It has always been our intent to do what we can to reconcile with the past in a manner consistent with our values, and with compassion and empathy for survivors.

I am personally devastated that anyone on this campus would have experienced abuse, and commit to doing all that we can to continually bolster an environment of safety and trust at UNCSA. Since 2021, we have reviewed and strengthened our campus safeguards as well as the Title IX reporting and response processes. Some industry-leading safeguards we have put into place include:

  • Hiring the university’s first coordinator for gender violence prevention and survivor advocacy, a role that provides a single point person to guide students and provide confidential, trauma-informed advocacy;
  • Implementing institution-wide, arts-industry specific intimacy training for students and faculty;
  • Enhancing our annual, mandatory campuswide sexual harassment prevention training;
  • Increasing capacity within our Title IX office for conducting investigations;
  • Increasing capacity for counseling services with the introduction of UWill, a free teletherapy platform available to students.

This is in addition to safeguards that had previously been in place, such as:

  • A mandatory requirement for all employees to report any potential sexual misconduct or harassment;
  • The university’s Division of Institutional Integrity that provides a unified approach to compliance requirements for federal and state laws across the university, including Title IX, and a full-time Title IX coordinator;
  • Ongoing prevention training for faculty, students and staff;
  • The most restrictive improper relations regulation in the UNC System, which stipulates that no student can ever consent to a sexual relationship with a faculty member, employee or contractor.

We are currently looking at where we can find resources to fund UNCSA’s portion of the settlement that will have the least impact on our operations. Please know that in fulfilling our financial obligations, we commit to safeguarding resources for core university activities and ongoing projects and commitments, including financial resources for students such as scholarships and aid. As previously announced, there will be no increases to tuition, fees or housing costs for 2024-25, and any future increases would not be tied to the settlement. Any past or future financial support contributed by our donors will not be used to fund our portion of the settlement without the explicit directive of the donor.

Lisa Lanier, the attorney for the claimants, has stated that, “This resolution marks the end of a decades-long journey for these former UNCSA students. It takes tremendous courage to pursue claims borne of past trauma and it has been our privilege to represent them in this process to bring institutional accountability for the inexcusable conduct to which they were subjected. The university worked diligently with us to reach this settlement, acknowledging that it was time to make amends for the past.”

I want to extend my thanks to President Hans and the UNC System for their critical role in acknowledging the past and supporting this resolution that will help UNCSA move forward into the future. Following is President Hans’statement on the settlement:

“Protecting the safety and wellbeing of our students is the university’s first responsibility. Any violation of that trust is painful, and even more so when victims must wait decades for recognition and a measure of justice. I admire the courage and determination of survivors in seeking to right past wrongs, and I am grateful to Chancellor Cole and his team for confronting this difficult chapter with compassion and integrity. The UNC School of the Arts is a wonderful institution that does enormous good for our state, and the commitment to acknowledge and make amends for past failings is exactly what we should want from our public institutions.”

We commit to continually evaluating our protocols to protect our community and create a culture of safety that reflects our values today as we strive for a campus free from abuse and misconduct. Resources for UNCSA students and employees can be found at Safe at UNCSA.


Brian Cole

May 17, 2024

UNCSA campus

Safe at UNCSA

Ensuring the safety of our community and providing support is a priority for UNCSA.