The University of New Mexico has received notification from the U.S. Department of Justice of a compliance review of UNM’s response to complaints of sexual assault and harassment by students.
“We have assured the DOJ of our deep concern about the issue of sexual assault and the seriousness of its nature,” President Robert G. Frank said. “We look forward to sharing the many steps that UNM has already taken to address it, as well as detailing the programs we are continuing to implement for training and education aimed at prevention.”
Attorneys for the New Mexico U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Educational Opportunities Section of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Department will conduct the review under Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which both prohibit sex discrimination in education programs. The University is compiling information to respond to the inquiry in an expedient manner.
“We have been actively working for some time to reduce sexual assault on campus, and believe that we have made significant progress toward our goals of encouraging the reporting of incidents and responding appropriately to complaints,” said Tomas Aguirre’, Dean of Students. “UNM has initiated a number of programs to increase awareness and prevention that also meet federal law requirements.”
Proactive steps taken by UNM in recent months include:
- A Presidential Task Force on Sexual Violence initiated in the spring of 2014.
Among the results of that task force:
- The expansion of the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) to the Sexual Molestation and Assault Response Team (SMART), a coordinated initiative that offers multiple paths of response to a wide range of victims of sexual crimes. Members of SMART include the UNM Resource Centers (Women's Resource Center, LGBTQ Center, Ethnic Centers); Health groups (SANE, Student Health and Counseling, CARS, Rape Crisis Center, Agora, etc.), and Police (UNMPD).
- The creation of LoboRESPECT, a student centered advocacy, response and education campaign, which includes a website, marketing materials and a series of educational news reports in the UNM newsroom.
- Using guidelines from the Office of Civil Rights, UNM developed innovative new educational outreach on sexual violence that was presented to more than 10,000 students this semester.
- A Provost’s Task Force designed to streamline various departments that address different aspect of Title IX, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and Clery Act requirements. The University will coordinate these responses under its LoboRESPECT central steering committee through the Dean of Students office. All university responses will follow the CARE model of Compliance, Advocacy, Response and Education.
- A Title IX Policy Committee that drafted a new Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy incorporating requirements in Title IX, VAWA and Clery (such as prohibition on stalking and dating violence), and the White House NotAlone.gov campaign (such as clear statements that victims and accused have equal rights during investigation and disciplinary process) for inclusion in the UNM Pathfinder student handbook.
- An independent assessment by Pilgrim & Associates commissioned by the Office of University Counsel to gauge attitudes and experiences regarding sexual assault in the UNM community. The University Counsel just received it and is reviewing the recommendations.
In addition to these recent responses, the University previously established a Title IX Coordinator in the Office of Equal Opportunity and revised its Student Code of Conduct/Disciplinary Policy to update and clarify procedures in the disciplinary process regarding sexual violence.
The Justice Department is encouraging anyone with information to contact (855) 856-2048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.