The University of New Mexico has completed the first year of a three-year agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to prevent sexual misconduct, and to provide clear and consistent policies and procedures for reporting, investigating, and responding to it on campus.
UNM has taken significant steps to address a number of concerns. These initiatives include:
- requiring in-person or online training of all students, staff, and faculty;
- clarifying policies, procedures and practices;
- providing multiple and varied resources for prevention and response;
- and delivering fair investigative and disciplinary processes.
However, University leaders acknowledge that more work must be done in an attempt to change attitudes and behaviors on and off campus. Regardless of modifications proposed nationally regarding Title IX compliance to prevent gender discrimination including sexual assault, UNM is staying the course with its promise to make a comprehensive effort to address these serious issues.
“At UNM, when we say ‘each of us defines all of us,’ it also means each of us must respect the other,” said Interim President Chaouki Abdallah. “Using the guidelines in this agreement, we are redefining our standards for providing a safe campus and fair processes for all.”
A key part of the DOJ agreement is a requirement for UNM to provide mandatory, intensive and interactive training on the prevention of sexual misconduct including harassment and assault. To date, nearly 15,500 undergraduate students have received the in-person training called “The Grey-Area” on Main Campus and at UNM branches. Nearly 2,000 graduate and professional students have taken a similar version of the training. More than 125 sessions have been completed, and dozens more are still available to allow students to complete the requirement by the December deadline.
In addition to students, UNM has trained thousands of employees about workplace harassment, including various types of discrimination, Title IX compliance, and the Campus SaVE Act. For calendar year 2016, 98 percent of UNM’s regular faculty and staff completed the required online training course, “Intersections: Preventing Discrimination and Harassment.”
Many other additional trainings (not required by the agreement) have been offered to UNM staff and faculty. Members of the UNM Police Department, Office of Equal Opportunity, and Dean of Students Office have collectively participated in more than 1,500 hours of training focused on Title IX, Trauma Informed Investigation, Inherent Bias, and Rape Crisis.
Also as part of the agreement, UNM has improved its procedures and practices to provide clear, reliable, prompt, and impartial investigation, adjudication, and appeal of all complaints of sexual harassment and misconduct. Revisions to several policies will go out for campus review in the next few months and upon approval, older policies will be rescinded.
UNM has conducted a number of surveys on main and branches campuses to receive suggestions on improving the campus climate. The University also has updated its LoboRESPECT website, which is dedicated to providing comprehensive information on the University’s prevention education efforts and programs, services and support for victims of sexual misconduct, and policies
“I am proud of the hard work that so many people on this campus have put into making UNM a safe and respectful environment for all,” Abdallah said. “In addition to meeting the requirements of the DOJ agreement, our faculty, staff and students have gone above and beyond to make a difference in their own spheres of influence. That’s what it takes to invoke real change.”
To provide the additional resources and services, the University hired or reassigned a number of staff positions in the Office of Equal Opportunity, the Dean of Student’s Office and Women’s Resource Center. The University anticipates the cost of additional staff and other required tasks will cost approximately $1.5 million during the three-year agreement.
This fall, UNM held a full week of activities, programs, speeches and outreach efforts dedicated to creating awareness and ensuring safety. UNM’s interim president kicked off Campus Safety Week with a proclamation and a campus-wide message focusing on preventing sexual misconduct.
Faculty members have created Faculty for a Sexual Assault Free Environment UNM to focus on the execution of the DOJ agreement and prevention of sexual harassment and misconduct at UNM. Faculty SAFE UNM is represented by a core group of approximately 20 faculty members and more than 60 others, who monitor the work of the group.
ASUNM, the undergraduate student government, is spearheading local participation in a national prevention and awareness campaign called “It’s On US.”
With the incoming 2017 class, all newly-issued LoboCard IDs will display contact information for the UNM Police Escort Service and the LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center on the back for quick reference.
For a complete look at the full report to the DOJ, visit One-Year Progress Report.