ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – As the University of New Mexico has garnered national attention for a recent rape investigation involving two football players, the White House has released its plan to help curb sexual assaults on college campuses.
So does UNM’s current sexual assault policy match what the White House is asking for? Some university officials say yes, but there is work to do.
“I’m encouraged,” said Summer Little, Director of the UNM Women’s Resource Center.
Looking over the new federal Not Alone report’s guidelines, Little says she’s encouraged.
“I think that we’re on track,” said Little.
The Not Alone report addresses how to prevent sexual assaults on college campuses, which is being called a growing problem nationwide.
One of the biggest recommendations the Feds are asking for is better victim advocacy. The Women’s Resource Center says it started a program called the Sexual Assault Response Team, or SART, this year to address the issue.
SART immediately links victims with medical help, counseling, police and school officials when a sexual assault is reported. The victim student then chooses what exact services they want to utilize.
“I think (it) has brought us leaps and bounds further than where we were,” said Little.
SART was recently used in the recent rape investigation of a female UNM student that’s now involving the Lobos cornerback, SaQwan Edwards, star running back Crusoe Gongbay, and former UNM student Ryan Ruff.
“And in this case all the services were provided right away, there was no delay, so that’s encouraging that our system are working a little better,” explained Little.
However, Little acknowledges that UNM has work to do.
“I know there are some places where still need to develop and put more resources,” she said.
Another big item? The Feds are asking colleges and universities to survey student’s sexual behavior with campus climate or student lifestyle surveys once a year. Little said the last time her office did a sexual health and lifestyle related survey was in 2005.
“I think it’s absolutely critical to understand what’s going on, we need to ask our students and get that feedback,” said Little.
The Feds are also asking for more bystander training, or how to teach students to stop sexual assaults.
Little says they’ve been waiting for more guidance about the issue for some time. Currently, UNM only voluntarily trains student groups about sexual assaults and does some training during small groups in new student orientation. Little believes there should be a more coordinated effort.
“Maybe select one program for campus if that’s appropriate,” said Little.
UNM officials say they should have a better idea of what exactly the Feds want to see. The Feds are hoping to mandate campus climate and student lifestyle surveys by 2016.
Only four sexual assaults were reported to UNM Police last year. However, the Women’s Resource Center said national statistics show that one in five women are raped during their college years.