UNM has turned over information requested by the U.S. Department of Justice as part of an investigation into the school’s handling of reported sexual assaults and harassment on campus.
According to a press release, UNM handed over the information just in time for the Jan. 9 deadline set by the Justice Department back in December.
The press release stated that the University is “confident that the policies and procedures provided will demonstrate to the DOJ that the University is committed to creating a safe campus, and fair processes to all involved in these matters.”
The documents supplied to the DOJ included copies of University policies, procedures, guidelines, student conduct codes and training regarding sexual harassment, sexual assault and sexual violence, according to the press release.
The packet also included information about police investigations, and details several measures UNM has already taken to combat the problem, including the Sexual Misconduct and Assault Response Team, the Women’s Resource Center, and outside resources utilized by UNM like the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners and the Rape Crisis Center.
The DOJ has not indicated how long the compliance review will take, but University officials have stated they are willing to make changes to procedures if any are recommended by the review.
“At the end of the day I’m sure they will come back and say ‘these are the things you are doing really well, and these are the things you need to do better,’” said Dean of Students Tomas Aguirre. “And I’ll be the first one to say ‘thank you for letting me know, and we are going to make it better now.’”
UNM is one of 74 universities being investigated by the DOJ regarding the handling of sexual assaults. The list of universities includes Ivy League schools like Harvard, Dartmouth and Princeton.
According to a 2009 DOJ-funded study, titled “College Women’s Experiences with Physically Forced, Alcohol or Other Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault Before and Since Entering College,” 19 percent of undergraduate women are sexually assaulted by the time they graduate.
Only four percent of women assaulted will report the crime to authorities, and a mere one percent of accused perpetrators will face disciplinary actions, according to the report.
UNM Clery Campus Safety Reports show that the number of sexual assaults reported on campus has gone down, from 11 in 2013 to eight in 2014.
If the DOJ’s statistics are accurate, however, the true number of sexual assaults and related incidents at UNM could be far higher.
A December press release from the DOJ stated it would be investigating complaints made by students against UNM regarding the way the University has handled cases in the past.
President Bob Frank said in a statement he has assured the DOJ of his and the University’s “deep concern” about this issue.
“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,” Frank said in the statement.
Jonathan Baca is the news editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JonGabrielB.