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UNM plans to survey students about sexual misconduct

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Starting Monday, a combination of 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students will have a chance to tell university officials how prevalent they feel sexual misconduct is in the lives of students, among other topics.

University of New Mexico administrators say they hope the survey responses will reveal if UNM officials are making progress in managing cases of sexual assault and harassment while awaiting the results of a Department of Justice investigation on the same topic.

“The results will answer whether or not the university is serving students in the best possible way, if prevention efforts are effective and whether or not response efforts are working,” said Heather Cowan, the administrator in charge of making sure UNM complies with the federal gender discrimination law, Title IX.

The survey period will last six weeks. An outside firm, SoundRocket, will conduct the survey and students will be randomly selected. Cowan said results should be publicly available by summer.

Participation in the survey is voluntary, though the university is offering prizes via random drawing to some participants. Those incentives include: one $100 gift card, 10 $50 gift cards and one $25 gift card to the UNM Bookstore, six T-shirts, four sweatshirts and five Lobo Louie bobbleheads.

All responses will be kept confidential. UNM officials say it should take about 15 minutes to complete the online survey.

An additional survey for those who weren’t randomly selected will be available for those who want to say something about sexual assault and harassment on campus. Those responses won’t be included in the official survey.

In fall 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it was investigating UNM’s policies and procedures regarding sexual assaults but declined to offer the specifics of what sparked the investigation, UNM officials said. UNM is now awaiting its report. In the meantime, UNM says it has taken steps to address the issue, including approving a new sexual assault policy.