Sexual Assault, Harassment, Misconduct, or Stalking
BCOM specifically prohibits sexual misconduct and will assist victims in seeking counseling (available either through the NMSU Counseling Center, BCOM, or several off-campus organizations), obtaining medical treatment (available through the Campus Health Center and local hospitals), changing room assignments, making academic changes, and in any other way possible, including criminal prosecution through the District Attorney’s Office (if the victim so desires). Students, faculty and staff, and visitors are reminded that they can contact the NMSU Police Department for assistance at any time, and do not have to file an official police report in order to be helped. If a report is filed with the NMSU Police Department, it will be fully investigated with the findings being referred to the District Attorney’s Office for prosecutorial decisions. (NOTE: The state statutes related to sexual assault, harassment, stalking, and other crimes can be found in Section 4 of the Annual Safety and Security Report).
BCOM prohibits sexual misconduct by students and employees. This includes forced sexual contact and forced sexual penetration. Also prohibited is any sexual harassment, such as requiring a person to engage in sexual conduct or activities in exchange for a grade, payment, or similar benefits. BCOM requires all employees and students to complete training on an annual basis regarding sexual misconduct. Additional information and training programs beyond this initial training are available through the NMSU Counseling Center, the BCOM Health and Wellness Counselor in the Office of Student Affairs, the Title IX Coordinator, and the NMSU Police Department. Contact information for each of these can be found in the Resources and Numbers tab.
NMSU investigates reported sexual misconduct (including dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking) through the Title IX Coordinator (the disciplinary investigation), as well as through the appropriate law enforcement agencies (the criminal investigation). During the NMSU disciplinary investigations, a preponderance of the evidence standard is used. During disciplinary proceedings, both the victim and the accused have the right to have another person present, including the opportunity to be accompanied to any related meeting or proceeding by an advisor of the person’s choice. The findings of Title IX disciplinary investigations will be sent to the President’s Office to determine if violations have taken place, and if so, then referred to The Student Ethics and Honor Committee (for students) or Human Resources (for employees) for appropriate action to be taken based on the circumstances of the individual incident.
For students, this can result in any of the following sanctions based on the severity of the offense: expulsion from NMSU housing; mandatory completion of an education program; completion of mandatory counseling; suspension; or dismissal and ban from both the BCOM and NMSU campuses. For employees, the possible sanctions are: documented counseling (for minor offenses); written reprimand (for minor offenses); suspension; or termination. More information regarding student misconduct and hearing procedures can be found at: https://bcomnm.org/students/title-ix/
Sexual misconduct often overlaps with crimes of sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, dating violence and domestic violence. As a result, sexual misconduct cases may be handled both by BCOM for policy violations, as well as by law enforcement for criminal violations. Each system has its own processes and standards. In addition, there are differences between federal definitions used to report violations of college policies, and state statutes used to prosecute offenders in the criminal justice system.
In an effort to reduce the risk of sexual misconduct as well as the crimes of rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, dating violence and domestic violence occurring among its students, the College utilizes a range of training and initiatives to provide awareness, educational, risk reduction and prevention programming. Educational programs are offered to raise awareness for all incoming students and employees, and are conducted during new student and new employee orientation and throughout an incoming student’s first semester. These programs and others offered throughout the year include strong messages regarding not just awareness, but also primary prevention (including normative messaging, environmental management and bystander intervention), and discuss institutional policies on sexual misconduct as well as the State of New Mexico definitions of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and consent in reference to sexual activity. Bystander engagement is encouraged through safe and positive intervention techniques and by empowering third-party intervention and prevention such as calling for help, identifying allies, and/or creating distractions.
Victim of a Crime
If you are the victim of a crime, whether while on campus or off campus, or experience a fire or medical emergency, you are encouraged to report it immediately by calling 911. For non-emergencies taking place on campus, call (575) 646-3311. When you call, give your name, the location you are calling from, a brief description of what occurred, and whether there is still a danger present (e.g., the person who committed the crime is still present). Prompt reporting and specific information will increase the chances of solving your case.
A police officer will be dispatched to meet with you and obtain all of the necessary information. Here are some guidelines regarding preserving evidence while you wait for an officer:
- If evidence from the crime is still intact, try not to move or destroy it. This includes avoiding trying to clean up the area, moving or throwing away items, or wiping down surfaces.
- If there are text messages, e-mails, voice mails, or other electronic evidence, preserve the original (if possible) or make a copy (if the original might be deleted, such as with Snapchat and similar programs) and provide this evidence to the police officer who responds;
- If you are being harassed or stalked, keep a log of any contact or sightings you have of the suspect, to include any third-party contacts where the suspect uses someone else to contact you or monitor your activities;
- If you are the victim of a sexual assault, avoid showering, changing clothes, or grooming, as these can destroy evidence. Protect any bedding or towels, clothes you were wearing, or other items where evidence may have been left.
- If possible, avoid the use of the bathroom, and consider getting a SANE Exam (described below) as soon as possible to identify and collect evidence that may be on your body. The first few hours are the most critical, but useful evidence can still be obtained 24 hours or more after some sexual assaults.
- If you chose to not report the crime immediately to police, you are still encouraged to write down as much as you can remember (when you are able to) so that if you decide to report at a later time, you will have something to remind you of critical details. Try to include as many details about what happened, as well as everything you can remember about the suspect. Include things you saw, heard, and even smelled, tasted, or felt. Also try to write down things like other people who were around and might be witnesses, locations where different things happened, and Even if you do not wish to file a police report right away, you may wish to preserve evidence using the above steps in case you later decide to contact police. This can help protect evidence that might assist later in the identification and/or prosecution of the person responsible for the crime. This can also preserve evidence you might want to use during an administrative hearing or civil lawsuit, should you choose either of those options.
Many students worry about reporting crimes to the police because they do not want to testify in a trial. Victims are nevertheless encouraged to at least contact the Las Cruces or the NMSU Police Department(s) so they can be made aware of other services (counseling services, medical treatment, etc.) that might lessen the trauma of the incident. If the victim does not wish to pursue criminal charges, their wishes will be respected. Any BCOM employees who are approached by a person who has been the victim of a sexual assault or other crime on either the BCOM or NMSU campus are required to assist the person in notifying the police department.
Some of the most frequently accessed services include:
- SANE Exam: This is available through the La Piñon Rape Crisis Center, and is a medical exam that is designed to identify damage to your body as a result of a sexual assault so it can be treated. In addition, evidence of sexual assault can be identified and collected during this exam. These exams are confidential, and are conducted by specially trained medical practitioners. You also have a right to have someone of your choosing with you during these exams. If you would like, a victim services advocate can accompany you and help with any questions you might have.
- Counseling: This service is available for students through the NMSU Counseling Center and the BCOM Health and Wellness Counselor located in the Office of Student Affairs, as well as a number of off-campus entities. Neither BCOM or the NMSU Counseling Center issues a charge to students for services, and all services are confidential.
- Medical: In addition to the SANE exam, medical services are available on campus through the Campus Health Center. In addition, there are two medical centers in Las Cruces, and a large number of urgent care centers and clinics in the area. The medical centers have 24-hour emergency departments, and many of the urgent care centers and clinics have hours that extend into the evenings and on weekends.
- Protection Orders: While certain BCOM officials can issue a “no contact” order against students or employees, such orders only apply on campus, and may only be helpful if the perpetrator of the crime is a student or employee. The NMSU Police Department’s Victim Services staff can assist victims of violence in obtaining temporary and permanent restraining orders from the state courts that will apply no matter where you might be, and no matter who the offender is. Victim services units with other police departments offer similar assistance.
- Victim Services: This is a unit that operates out of the NMSU Police Department, and is staffed with a coordinator and advocates who can assist with connecting to any of the above resources, making housing changes, getting protective orders through the courts, obtaining emergency food and shelter, etc. As mentioned above, victims do not need to file a police report in order to receive assistance from the Victim Services unit.