The U.S. Department of Justice released the University of New Mexico from a three-year oversight, UNM President Garnett Stokes announced in a Board of Regents meeting on Dec. 10 as well as in a letter to all students, staff and faculty.
The DOJ formally ended its oversight in a letter dated Dec. 6, 2019. DOJ closed its monitoring of the agreement because they felt UNM had met its requirements of the three-year oversight agreement, according to the letter.
“Please note that this determination does not preclude the Department’s investigation of future complaints against UNM, if any,” the letter said.
Oversight came after a year-long investigation by the DOJ that was triggered by a series of reports stemming from high-profile sexual assault cases at UNM. In one 2016 survey, one in four students at UNM said they had experienced harassment while one in 10 said they had experienced assault.
“At the outset of our investigation, the University had in place a labyrinth of 17 outdated policies and procedures related to sexual assault and sexual harassment, many in conflict with each other and with federal regulations and guidance on Title IX,” a 2016 report read.
The DOJ investigation found:
- UNM faculty, staff, UNMPD officers and students were unaware of how to report sexual harassment and discrimination
- UNM was not providing training about how and when to report
- The reporting process was confusing
- Academic careers were derailed
- Lasting and serious emotional and mental health consequences
Additionally, the investigation found that students were:
- Suspending their academic coursework
- Dropping out of extracurricular activities
- Losing scholarships
- Leaving the University altogether
“In interview after interview, UNM students expressed reluctance to report sexual assault to UNM because they feared retaliation or because they lacked confidence in the University’s response,” the DOJ’s report read.
The letter sent this week said “no further action was required” in regard to changes made since 2015, as first reported in the Albuquerque Journal.
“This is a great day for UNM,” Regent Marron Lee said during the meeting. Lee pointed out the significance and seriousness of the three-year oversight. Both Lee and Stokes said there was still work to be done.
“I am very proud of the offices and staff members who have worked tirelessly during this time, dealing with a multitude of issues in an environment of intense scrutiny,” President Stokes said in a University-wide communique.
As part of the agreement, UNM was obliged to create quarterly reports to the DOJ. In its final report, UNM catalogued changes the school has made since the oversight began.
“UNM has funneled new resources into campus training, investigation and advocacy regarding sexual assault. For the past three years, more than 36,900 students received in-person sexual misconduct awareness training in accordance with the Agreement,” the final report read.
The report emphasized the University's efforts to train students, staff and faculty about reporting sexual misconduct.
In Oct. of 2019, UNM’s annual safety report said that 24 people had reported being raped on main campus to UNMPD in 2018. The report said 14 of those occurred in UNM student housing. There were 16 reports of dating violence, and 36 reports of stalking.
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