ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Department of Justice found the University of New Mexico botched its handling of sexual harassment and sexual assault complaints.
The university has now agreed to a plan to fix it.
Now that the agreement is signed, UNM is working on the logistics to figure out how to train all of its faculty, staff and students on sexual assault and harassment, and how to pay for it all.
“I’m concerned about it, but we wouldn’t have committed to it if we didn’t believe we could do it,” said UNM President Robert Frank.
UNM made a 3-year agreement with DOJ.
“It’s going to eliminate the hostile environment,” said Damon Martinez, the U.S. attorney for New Mexico.
After an investigation, the Justice Department announced six months ago that UNM students didn’t know where to go to report problems and that if they did, DOJ claimed investigations were not launched immediately and sometimes UNM failed to collect key pieces of evidence.
It found that sexual assault victims were re-victimized by the system, left struggling in school.
“Some of these victims were losing their scholarships or they were even dropping out of school,” Martinez said.
Despite disagreeing about some of the findings, UNM has agreed on a 76-page plan for change.
“It’s taken us a long time to get to this point. We’re very, very pleased to be here today. I can assure you,” Frank said.
The goal is to revise policies and procedures for “adequate, reliable, prompt and impartial investigation” and make sure everyone knows about those revised policies.
It requires basic training for UNM Police to go over what sexual harassment is and how to properly investigate it.
UNM also now has to give in-person interactive training on sexual harassment, not just to incoming students, but to all students.
UNM estimates making the changes in the 3-year plan will cost about $1.5 million.
“As of today, we have no idea where the $1.5 million will come from given the cuts we’re going through,” Frank said. “We’ll just have to find it. It’s a priority. We’re committed to this. There’s no way not to find it.”
The agreement outlines several deadlines for UNM, some as early as December first.
That is when the university has to submit its first proposal for new policies and procedures to the Department of Justice.