By Sarah Muzzillo
Christi Hurt knew from a young age that she wanted to make the world a better place. Now serving as the director of the Carolina Women’s Center and Assistant Vice Chancellor/ Chief of Staff for Student Affairs, Hurt originally discovered her passions for feminism and women’s activism as a Girl Scout.
The organization fostered her mentoring skills and taught her what it meant to help women.
“What that [Girl Scouts] did was give me space to figure out what kind of community work I liked doing…it was very community involved, very much pick an issue and go work on it” Hurt said.
This determination to help others carried over into college. Hurt chose to attend UNC-Chapel Hill as a history major, and found herself in an introduction to women’s studies class.
“Professor Barbara Harris said on the last day of class ‘take everything you’ve learned this semester and figure out a way to put it into practice, volunteer at a domestic violence shelter, serve on your local rape crisis center hotline,’” Hurt recalled.
Hurt served as a volunteer at the Orange County Rape Crisis Center throughout her college career, and later as a staff member. After that, she worked at the Washington State Sexual Assault Coalition. These opportunities provided her with the tools to accomplish what she is most proud of: working as chair of UNC’s Title IX task force.
“We really worked hard to hear people, hear their concerns, blend that with federal guidance, and intense media scrutiny, and a heated campus to figure out what would work best here at UNC,” Hurt said.
The work is by no means done, however. “We still have lots of roads to cover in terms of prevention, and that, really at the end of the day, is what I’m focused on,” Hurt explained.
UNC’s new Title IX policy requires both an annual review to improve the policy and a prevention task force.
“I’m really excited that folks are leading to figure out what’s currently happening at UNC, what could be happening at UNC, and to make up a strategic plan on how to prevent violence,” she said.
Hurt believes that women face many challenges on UNC’s campus, from interpersonal violence to the pressure of embodying “effortless perfection.”
“There’s this cultural and social pressure to be everything to everybody, and I don’t think we give students a chance to figure out who they truly are and what they truly want. As long as we keep trying to set up this expectation that people will graduate with all these majors and all of these minors and all of these GPA successes and all of these resume successes, we don’t give any space to the development of the whole person,” Hurt said.
The ideal of having it all connects to issues surrounding affirmative consent, Hurt explained.
“If people don’t have time to think about who they are and what they want, they can’t effectively communicate and have affirmative consent in anything because we’re all just along for the ride, and I want to create a space for people to do that more mindfully,” she said.
Despite constant pressures to be perfect, Hurt encourages students to focus on themselves. “Take time to know who you are and don’t worry about what other people think…do the thing that you know you want to do, because if you follow where your heart is pulling you, you never know where that magnetic pull will lead you.”
Contact Christi: firstname.lastname@example.org
Women’s Center: email@example.com
Title IX Office: Equal Opportunity & Compliance Office Staff Main Phone: 919-966-357