New numbers show The University of New Mexico is making big strides toward addressing a rising national problem: sexual misconduct on college campuses.
Just six months after UNM reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s office, UNM has issued a report showing significant progress in reaching the detailed goals.
"We believe that UNM, through its work with the Justice Department, has made huge strides in responding to a serious problem that impacts higher education nationwide." - UNM President Chaouki Abdallah
In the Oct. 17, 2016 Agreement, the University agreed to improve its sexual misconduct policies and procedures. The required changes include clarifying reporting, investigation and response processes regarding alleged sexual misconduct.
The progress report highlights new mandatory training being provided to students and employees; policy, procedure and practice updates; additional staffing, available resources and other campus-wide efforts taken to meet the compliance requirements of the agreement. It concludes that UNM has made significant changes that should result in positive and sustainable improvements in the campus climate surrounding issues of sexual misconduct.
UNM requires all faculty, staff and student employees to take an online course, “Intersections: Preventing Discrimination and Harassment” on an annual basis. The report notes broad participation with 99 percent of regular staff and almost 97 percent of regular faculty having taken the training.
“We are pleased that more than 12,000 employees and nearly 10,000 students at UNM will have completed extensive training to recognize, respond, and reduce sexual harassment and sexual misconduct,” acting President Chaouki Abdallah said. “This high participation rate shows that our campus community is serious about understanding and dealing with this critical issue.”
In addition to employee training, UNM is also charged with providing intensive in-person training to thousands of UNM students. The program entitled “The Grey Area” is about an hour and a half long, divided into two sessions – a large group followed by smaller, interactive discussions. Students examine the interconnected issues of dating and domestic violence, sexual violence, bystander intervention and consent. More than 8,000 students have already completed the training, with another 1,500 expected to do so by the end of spring semester. Students who have already taken “The Grey Area” training or are enrolled exclusively on-line are required to take the online module “Campus Clarity: Think About It.”
UNM personnel involved in processing, investigating or resolving complaints of sexual misconduct also received extensive additional training. Staff members at UNM’s Police Department, Office of Equal Opportunity and Dean of Students Office have collectively participated in more than 1,200 hours of courses focused on Title IX regulations, Trauma Informed Investigation, Rape Crisis and other sexual assault awareness training.
As part of the DOJ agreement, UNM also improved its procedures to provide reliable, prompt and impartial investigation, adjudication and appeal of all complaints of sexual misconduct. A number of new staff members were hired to provide services at the Office of Equal Opportunity, the Dean of Students Office and the Women’s Resource Center.
To gain more information about the concerns about sexual violence or harassment on campus, UNM conducted a campus climate survey on main campus last spring and is rolling out another survey this spring not only on main campus, but also on the University’s four smaller branch campuses around the state.
UNM faculty have also worked to improve the campus environment by creating Faculty SAFE UNM, a core group of 20 professors and 60 others to monitor the execution of the DOJ agreement, and to provide research and course work on sexual violence, sexual harassment and gender inequity.
“We continue to focus on providing a safe campus with fair processes for all. We believe that UNM, through its work with the Justice Department, has made huge strides in responding to a serious problem that impacts higher education nationwide,” Abdallah said.
The progress report also lists a number of websites with resources available on campus to combat, report or learn more about sexual misconduct.
To read the entire report visit, DOJ Progress Report.