DOJ ends 3-year review of UNM’s handling of sexual assault, harassment cases

Albuquerque News
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Department of Justice’s review of the University of New Mexico’s handling of sexual harassment and sexual assault has come to an end.

On Tuesday, the University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes announced during a Board of Regents meeting that the university has complied with requirements of their three-year agreement with the DOJ. Part of these requirements included the training of staff, faculty, and students on sexual misconduct and prevention.

The Justice Department investigation into UNM began in 2014 after students complained that the university wasn’t taking cases of sexual assault and harassment seriously enough and that the school lacked the proper resources. In 2016, the DOJ released a report that stated the university failed to collect key pieces of evidence and that it took the university more than three-weeks to start an investigation after receiving a complaint.

The DOJ investigation determined UNM failed to comply with federal gender antidiscrimination laws.

“We cannot be a strong university unless we address sexual misconduct effectively, fully, and in a timely manner,” said UNM President Garnett S. Stokes in a statement. “During my tenure, it has been a top priority for UNM to comply fully with this agreement. We have regained the trust of the Department of Justice and it will conclude its monitoring, but we will continue to promote positive behavior, and foster a safe and respectful culture.”

During the Board of Regents meeting, it was announced that UNM has complied with the requirements of the DOJ agreement and that the review has been closed.

“Based on this three-year review, we have determined that no further action is warranted at this time. The Department is therefore formally closing its monitoring of the Agreement with the University of New Mexico,” said the DOJ in a letter to the university last week.

UNM identified several positive trends that have stemmed from the monitoring including a campus climate survey that showed students were better educated on misconduct and where to go for assistance, sexual misconduct investigations are stronger with effective and transparent responses, and that there’s been an increase in people reporting misconduct or asking for support.

The university also states that they are involved in projects that will further efforts to prevent sexual misconduct with action being taken across all UNM campuses to reduce domestic violence and sexual assault supported by a three-year grant from the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women, and UNM’s participation in the Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education.

UNM will also host a regional discussion in February 2020 on how to utilize data-driven models and best practices to reduce sexual violence on college and service campuses nationwide.

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