The 2017 release of the Clery Report revealed that the University of New Mexico is plagued by issues including sexual assault, dating violence and domestic violence.
However, while the increase in numbers is eye-catching, it may not be wholly negative.
According to the Clery Report, reports of rape on campus property rose from 12 to 14 from 2015 to 2016. Whereas, dating violence had the highest rise in reports with 23 incidents in 2016, compared to just five in 2015.
The Clery Report defines dating violence as “violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim.”
Lt. Tim Stump of the UNM Police Department said defining and reporting dating violence in the Clery Report is new.
“Just recently, we started reporting on dating violence, so it became part of the Clery Act. Back in 2014, it wasn’t in the spotlight,” Stump said.
The drastic spike in the number of dating violence reports, Stump said, could be explained simply by the fact that it is now an option for people to report.
“Sometimes, just knowing it’s available to report, I think that’s why the numbers have gone up,” Stump said.
Stump also said he thinks the 2016 U.S. Department of Justice agreement with UNM has helped University officials work together around the issue of sexual violence. He feels the agreement is a reason the number of sexual violence reports have risen, he said.
“As far as reporting, I think that we collaborate better, we communicate better — and that’s the bottom line. There’s a lot more communication because of (the DOJ agreement),” Stump said.
In October of last year, the DOJ reached an agreement with UNM after investigating the school in 2015 and finding that UNM was not complying with Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972.
That made UNM one of two universities investigated for its response to sexual assault.
The DOJ agreement states that UNM should provide comprehensive training to students, faculty and staff on sexual harassment and sexual assault. Students go through this training during new student orientation over the summer before they begin attending UNM or through the Grey Area training offered by UNM for those who did not attend the training during NSO.
Educating students about their resources will lead them to then utilize the available resources, should they need to, Stump said.
While the number of reports has increased, the true number of actual crimes committed cannot be known.
Molly Block, clinical director for the Agora Crisis Center at UNM, said an increase in reporting is a step toward solving the issue of sexual violence.
“We’re trying to create a culture of safety, and one in which victims are confident that if they do file a report, they’re going to receive some help,” Block said.
Those who have experienced any kind of sexual violence, or think they may have, can contact the Agora Crisis Center at (505) 277-3013 or UNM Student Health and Counseling at (505) 277-3136.
Tom Hanlon is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TomHanlonNM.