Campus faculty and administrative leaders are exploring ways to improve mandatory Title IX reporting policies at The University of New Mexico.
“The goal of this town hall is to bring everyone who wants to prevent sexual violence back to the table, to work out what that new policy will look like, and what training and communication will be necessary to make it work,” explained Liz Hutchison, associate vice president for equity and inclusion at UNM, who will be moderating the event. “In addition to work already underway at a number of colleges and universities, there is also a national movement of over sixty research specialists and faculty seeking to implement these changes everywhere. It's pretty exciting.”
Faculty for Sexual Assault Free Environment (SAFE) at UNM, the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) and the Division for Equity and Inclusion (DEI) are sponsoring the town hall. It is a partner event to the one held by OEO last month, explaining new federal regulations regarding Title IX.
An upcoming panel discussion will look at UNM and national efforts to improve support to those who experience sexual harassment. It’s being held Friday, Sept. 25 from 12 to 1:30 p.m.
UNM survivor advocates will be joined by leading researchers to discuss how and why changes to Title IX reporting policies are urgently needed. Panelists include:
Assistant Professor of Psychology and Women’s & Gender Studies | University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Doctoral Candidate in Psychology | University of Oregon
Research Associate | Center for Institutional Courage
Blake Boursaw, M.S.
Instructor, College of Nursing, TREE Center, and Center for Participatory Research | The University of New Mexico
Jessica Hidalgo Holland
Director, Women’s Resource Center | The University of New Mexico
Faculty SAFE UNM worked with various stakeholders at UNM in 2017 to update and refine policies on sexual misconduct at UNM. One of the most important elements of those policies involved mandatory reporting. Legal mandates require that UNM comply with Title IX and the Clery Act, as well as other legal policies, to provide avenues for support and reporting.
Currently, UNM’s policy requires all staff and faculty to report any information they receive directly to the OEO (see OEO’s Title IX Reporting Obligations). According to Faculty SAFE, this policy – like other “blanket” reporting policies instituted in higher education in recent years – has long drawn criticism from victims’ rights groups and some faculty researchers. In 2016, the UNM Faculty Senate passed a resolution calling for revisions to this policy, and in 2017, a Presidential Task Force on Reporting Sexual Misconduct and Harassment and Supporting the UNM Community recommended that only university employees in supervisory positions be mandated to report, while the whole community be required to assist survivors wishing to report misconduct and/or seek confidential support and services.
Although these efforts to change the University’s reporting policy were unsuccessful, it generated campus-wide discussion, spread awareness among students and fortified collaboration between key administrators, faculty, and campus advocates. This town hall is an effort to continue expanding that collaborative space to ensure comprehensive support for survivors of sexual harassment.