They conducted multiple focus groups that were open to all students as well as a few specifically for student athletes, fraternities and sororities. They also held open office hours.
About eight students attended the first focus group on Tuesday. Issues with reporting sexual assault and other response concerns were discussed at the focus groups, said one student who wished to remain anonymous.
“(The DOJ forum) was helpful, comfortable and respectful,” she said. “If something has happened to them, they should come forward and tell someone because (the DOJ) actually are here to listen and help us. The policies are hard to understand, hard to find, hard to know where to go if something has happened to you.”
In December the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division opened an investigation into the University’s policies and practices for preventing and responding to sexual assault. The review was a response to complaints about UNM’s handling of reported sexual assaults and sexual harassment.
The DOJ representatives were unable to comment about the current status of the investigation or on their visit to campus.
“UNM is committed to reducing sexual violence in the campus community by providing anyone who may have experienced it with resources and support, and by resolving complaints promptly and fairly,” Dean of Students Tomas Aguirre said.
UNM has taken steps toward these goals by establishing multiple initiatives, both student-driven and otherwise. LoboRESPECT is one approach that helps students confront issues surrounding sexual assault as well as hazing, alcohol abuse, hate and bias. This initiative is based off of the C.A.R.E (compliance, advocacy, respect and education) model that has committees of representatives working to create programs that meet its requirements, according to a UNM press release.
The Lobo Guardian app, which was introduced in February, is another step UNM is taking to increase access to help. The app lets students anonymously report crimes to the UNM Police Department, make emergency phone calls and set safety timers with designated “guardians.”
UNM has been working to promote initiatives and educational campaigns as well as update sexual assault policies and practices, according to a UNM press release.
Students who were unable to attend a focus group but wish to speak to a DOJ representative can contact the department at 855-856-2048 or online at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marielle Dent is the web editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at or on Twitter @Marielle_Dent.