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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 17, 2016

Justice Department Reaches Agreement with University of New Mexico to Protect Students from Sexual Assault and Harassment

The Justice Department reached an agreement today with the University of New Mexico (UNM) to ensure that UNM responds swiftly and effectively to allegations of sexual harassment, including sexual assault, involving students.  The agreement resolves the department’s findings of UNM’s non-compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The department issued a letter of findings on April 22, 2016, after a 16-month investigation into complaints from students alleging that UNM did not respond adequately to their reports of sexual assault.  The agreement announced today details specific steps UNM will take to strengthen its procedures, training and practices for investigating and resolving allegations of sexual assault and harassment; to help students, faculty and staff understand their reporting options, duties and obligations with respect to sexual harassment; and to ensure that members of the campus community know where to turn for help.  Under the agreement, UNM will: 

  • provide comprehensive and effective training to all students, faculty and staff that gives notice of UNM’s prohibition on sexual harassment, including sexual assault;
  • ensure that the training includes information about reporting duties, 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, reliable, impartial and equitable resolution of sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations;
  • adequately investigate or respond to all allegations of sexual harassment, including allegations of retaliation for reporting sexual harassment;
  • take prompt and effective steps to eliminate any hostile environment that may arise, prevent its recurrence and address its effects; and
  • ensure that the individuals designated to coordinate Title IX efforts receive adequate training and coordinate these efforts effectively.

“No student should ever feel afraid or unsafe at school because his or her campus fails to effectively respond to sexual assault and harassment,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “We commend UNM for taking proactive steps to ensure that the entire community of students, staff and faculty fully understand the university’s obligation to respond fairly, promptly and reliably to all incidents of sexual assault and harassment.”

“We are deeply committed to civil rights enforcement, and sexual assault and sexual harassment are civil rights issues,” said U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez of the District of New Mexico.  “Students have the right to live and learn in a safe educational environment, and this agreement provides the foundation that UNM will build on to ensure that this right is both recognized and respected.”

UNM fully cooperated with the department’s investigation and in crafting an agreement that will provide for accountability to the public and for prompt and effective implementation of remedial measures.

The investigation was conducted jointly by the Civil Rights Division’s Educational Opportunities Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of New Mexico.  Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its website at www.justice.gov/crt.  Additional information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of New Mexico is available on its website at www.justice.gov/usao/nm

The enforcement of Title IV and Title IX, both of which bar sex discrimination by public institutions of higher learning, is a top priority of the Civil Rights Division.  For more information about the administration’s efforts on prevention and response to sexual assault and sexual harassment on college and university campuses, please visit www.notalone.gov.  

UNM Agreement

Topic(s): 
Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 
16-1208
Updated October 17, 2016