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UNM among schools investigated by DOJ

University added to the list of nearly 100 schools to be examined for its handling of repoted sexual assaults

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday that it has started investigating UNM regarding the school’s handling of reported sexual assaults and harassment on campus.

According to a release issued by the DOJ, the department will look into UNM’s policies and practices on sexual assault prevention as well as complaints made by students, under Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Both acts ban sexual discrimination, the release states.

“We have assured the DOJ of our deep concern about the issue of sexual assault and the seriousness of its nature,” said President Bob Frank in an official statement. “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.”

UNM is just one among a very long list of universities under investigation by the DOJ for the handling of sexual assault reports. In August the DOJ announced that it is investigating a total of 74 universities, including top-tier schools such as Harvard University, the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor, Princeton University and Dartmouth College.

The problem is that one in five undergraduate women — or 19 percent — is sexually assaulted before they graduate, and only one percent of accused perpetrators face any disciplinary action, according to a 2009 DOJ-funded study, “College Women’s Experiences with Physically Forced, Alcohol- or Other Drug-Enabled and Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault Before and Since Entering College.”

In the UNM release, Dean of Students Thomas Aguirre said UNM has been proactive in trying to eliminate sexual assault on campus. He cited expansion of the Sexual Assault Response Team to the Sexual Molestation and Assault Response Team, and the creation of student-centered advocacy group LoboRESPECT, among other things.

“I was just so disappointed, I can’t tell you,” Aguirre said at a press conference last week. “Especially after all the hard work by so many different people in the last year and really feeling like we were ahead of the curve.”

These measures seem to be working so far. For the 2013 calendar year, the University received 11 reports of sexual assault, according to the 2013 Clery Campus Safety Report. This year UNM has had eight reports, Aguirre said. However, according to the DOJ study’s statistics, only four percent of sexual assault victims report the incident to police or campus security.

Aguirre said that once the DOJ tells UNM what needs to change, the University will do everything within its power to comply.

“Once we have received the data, we will provide whatever information that we need. We will take it very seriously,” he said. “And at the end of the day I’m sure they will come back and say ‘these are things you are doing really, really well, and these are the things you need to do better.’ And I’ll be the first one to say ‘thank you for letting me know, and we are going to make it better now.’”

The DOJ asks anyone with information about sexual assaults or harassment to contact the department at (855) 856-2048 or

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Sexual assault involving a member of the UNM community can be reported to UNM Police Department at 277-2241 . Anonymous tips can be submitted at by clicking the “submit an anonymous tip” link under the reporting header in the left column.

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