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UNM Cuts Deal With US|on Sexual Harassment

ALBUQUERQUE (CN) — The Department of Justice and the University of New Mexico have reached an agreement on how to modify the university's procedures to prevent, investigate and resolve allegations of sexual harassment and assault.

After a 16-month investigation, the Department of Justice concluded in an April letter that while UNM had improved, it still fell short of Title IX and Title IV requirements.

The university's policies were found to be outdated and conflicting, the process for reporting sexual harassment or assaults were confusing, and students "expressed reluctance to report sexual assault to UNM because they feared retaliation or because they lacked confidence in the university's response," according to the 37-page letter on Department of Justice letterhead.

The 76-page Agreement, released Monday, requires the university to take these steps:

Provide comprehensive and effective training to all students, faculty and staff, giving notice of UNM's prohibition of sexual harassment and 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 university 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;

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

The agreement, which will be in effect for three academic years, provides timelines for implementing these changes, and the Justice Department will review of university's progress.

In announcing the agreement, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, said: "No student should ever feel afraid or unsafe at school because his or her campus fails to effectively respond to sexual assault and harassment. 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."

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