June 20, 2016 - Chris Quintana

June 20, 2016
Chris Quintana

Change tends to be hard to handle, in part because from various points of view change can be seen as willful or inevitable, negative or positive, fast or slow.

The majority of men on college campuses, surveys show, find the changes in codes of conduct in dating and sexual relations to be arbitrary, unfair, and so fast they have a hard time keeping up.

Women, on the other hand, say the changes that lay out more detailed ground rules for sexual behavior are necessary, just, and long overdue.

At the heart of these opposed positions is a well-documented fact:  college women are EIGHT TIMES as likely to suffer from some form of sexual insult, aggression or crime as college men. Almost 20 percent of undergraduate woman have told investigators, academic, social and criminal, that they were victimized by everything from stalking to rape during their four years on campus.

It is symptomatic that these data come from a comprehensive review of investigations published by the Federal department of Justice in 2009.

For more than three years, the attitude on the campus of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque seemed to be, “They’re not talking about us.”

Then in 2013, on a single day, two women filed police reports claiming they had been forcibly groped on campus and felt lucky to have escaped with nothing worse than that. It was, said University President Robert Frank, “a wake up call [that] we’re rusty on how to talk to each other.”

This was followed by the announcement that the Federal Justice Department would be investigating UNM to assess its performance in protecting students from sexual attacks. The Dean of Student’s response was essentially – “Why us? We’ve been doing so much!”

To the University’s credit, it quickly went beyond talk to create “a special response unit for victims of sexual assault, called SART, that summer.”

The team consisted of medical, counseling, law enforcement and administrative personnel to help students deal with assaults. At the same time, the university increased police patrols on campus and also began working on updating the student policy handbook.

The University also brought in an outside law firm to look into the issue of student safety from sexual imposition, and its report, issued in January 2015, said the school’s shotgun approach was more cosmetic and confusion than effective. Most students felt they had no clue how to navigate the system to safety and justice after being attacked. Which was, by the way, exactly what the student newspaper, the Daily Lobo had reported months earlier.

This led to more changes on campus, and a resumption of the self-judgment, “We’re alright,” which lasted until April 2016, when the Justice Department named UNM as one of two campuses – the other was the University of Montana – to flunk its exam.

Once again, President Frank is assuring everyone that UNM has been doing well and will do better…but still a significant percentage of female students say, they do not feel safe on campus.

Two recent stories show why the issues of sexual conduct and institutional protection from abuse on the UNM campus are still red-hot.  The lawyer for three men, two of them UNM football players…is suing the University for what he calls a botched investigation into charges the three men raped a college student. She, by the way, is also suing because she agrees the investigation was botched, that much more evidence was available to implicate the men she accused.

The bottom line on the case is that formal criminal charges were never filed against any of the three men. More recently, the university is investigating charges of sexual misconduct at a fraternity party. So far, now results of that investigation have been made publicly available.

Our guest today, Chris Quintana has been covering this story for the local newspaper, the #1 paper in the state The Albuquerque Journal, but is familiar with it from his days as a reporter and editor at the Daily Lobo. Chris, thanks so much for joining our conversation.

Reading Room

“Three accused of rape sue UNM over ‘botched’ investigation” – Albuquerque Journal

“UNM investigating sexual assault complaint involving Sigma Chi” – Albuquerque Journal

“DOJ criticizes UNM’s response to sexual assaults” – Albuquerque Journal

“UNM police frustrated with DA’s office over sexual assault cases” – Albuquerque Journal

“Title IX at UNM: New policies, resources tackle sexual misconduct” – Albuquerque Journal

“Colleges overdo it in forming sexual assault policies” – Albuquerque Journal

“Sex assault, harassment reports triple at UNM” – Albuquerque Journal

“Constructing a safer campus” – Daily Lobo

“University responds to severe DOJ reports” – Daily Lobo

“UNM to launch sexual assault survey” – Daily Lobo

“UNMPD changing the way they record sexual assault on campus” – Daily Lobo

“ASUNM Senate: Pepper spray should be allowed on campus” – Daily Lobo

“Scientist discusses sexual assault prevention” – Daily Lobo

“UNMPD annual report displays rise, fall in various crimes for 2014” – Daily Lobo

“LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center projected to open mid-September” – Daily Lobo

“Justice Department reps discuss sexual assault” – Daily Lobo

“UNM’s sexual assault reporting pathways a confusing process” – Daily Lobo

“Law firm releases climate assessment on UNM’s sexual violence” – Daily Lobo

“Dr. Peg’s Prescription: Tips and resources for dealing with sexual assault” – Daily Lobo

“UNM among schools investigated by DOJ” – Daily Lobo

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