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DOJ: UNM Unresponsive to Sexual Harassment and Assault

DOJ: UNM Unresponsive to Sexual Harassment and Assault

As a result of the investigation, the feds said that UNM was in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

Investigation Conducted In Response to Complaints Found ‘Significant Gaps’ 

BY DENNIS DOMRZALSKI

The University of New Mexico’s handling of sexual harassment and sexual assault complaints doesn’t comply with federal law, the U.S. Department of Justice said Friday.

In a letter to UNM President Bob Frank, the DOJ said that students, faculty and staff lack a basic understanding about reporting options, duties and obligations, and they don’t know where to turn for help.

“The investigation also found significant gaps in UNM’s procedures, training and practices for investigating and resolving allegations of sexual assault and harassment, resulting in a grievance process that complainants and respondents alike described as confusing, distressing and rife with delays,” the DOJ said in a news release. 

“More generally, in focus groups and interviews, many UNM students expressed reluctance to report sexual assault to UNM because they lacked confidence in the school’s response. More generally, in focus groups and interviews, many UNM students expressed reluctance to report sexual assault to UNM because they lacked confidence in the school’s response.”

The DOJ’s investigation began in December 2014 in response to complaints from students who said that UNM didn’t adequately respond to their complaints. As a result of the investigation, the feds said that UNM was in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

The DOJ said UNM must do several things to comply with the law, including:

– Provide comprehensive and effective training to all students, faculty and staff that gives notice of UNM’s prohibition on sexual harassment, including sexual assault; information about reporting options, duties and obligations; details on where to go for assistance; and information on grievance procedures and potential outcomes;

– Revise UNM’s policies, procedures and investigative practices to provide a grievance procedure that ensures prompt and equitable resolution of sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations;

– Adequately investigate or respond to all allegations by students who have alleged sexual assault or sexual harassment, including allegations of retaliation for reporting sexual assault or sexual harassment;

– Take prompt and effective steps to eliminate a hostile environment, prevent its reoccurrence and address its effects; and

– Ensure that the individuals designated to coordinate Title IX efforts receive adequate training and coordinate these efforts effectively.

  The DOJ said UNM cooperated fully with the investigation and has made progress over the past year in improving its response to sexual harassment and sexual assault complaints.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.
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