The University of New Mexico’s Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) continues its efforts involving civil rights investigations amid the coronavirus pandemic and has released a series of Frequently Asked Questions regarding COVID-19 and those investigations.
As UNM has moved online to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) wants to ensure the campus community that it continues to maintain regular functions with regard to investigations.
Even though UNM has moved to remote learning, OEO will continue to investigate cases, conduct interviews and hold meetings as scheduled through remote channels.
“OEO continues to be operational and investigators are proceeding with their investigation timelines,” said Angela Catena, Title IX coordinator. “OEO shall not subject investigations to undue delays. However cases may be delayed, with good cause, when requested by one of the parties.”
OEO says cases will not be dropped, nor will individuals be encouraged to drop cases because of UNM’s response to COVID-19. UNM will still provide individuals with resources and accommodations whether or not a formal complaint has been filed, including reasonable academic accommodations related to an individual’s experience of discrimination.
OEO says online platforms still carry the same weight in UNM’s policies and do not affect civil rights. Any behavior prohibited by UNM policy is also prohibited in online forms, such as cyber-harassment, cyber-stalking, and cyber-bullying that is based on a protected category.
Discrimination and harassment can take many forms, including through the use of social media, email, text messages, online chat rooms, video platforms (Facetime, Skype, Zoom, etc.), and telephonic.
Additionally, OEO will continue to accept reports of harassment and discrimination that can also occur in online settings, and encourages those who have been impacted to contact OEO.
“Even during remote work environments, OEO maintains its duty to address allegations of civil rights violations,” Catena said.