The University of New Mexico’s incoming freshman are gaining more information from New Student Orientation (NSO) than available academic programs and student services. NSO now includes presentations on sexual misconduct and assault, an alcohol prevention curriculum and an introduction to the LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center.

The additions were established in partnership with the Bernalillo County DWI Prevention Program, the UNM Women’s Resource Center, the LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center and student groups, respectively.

The Alcohol Literacy Challenge (ALC), an alcohol prevention curriculum that has shown significant reductions in alcohol use among college students, is presented by Certified Prevention Specialist, Peter De Benedettis. The ALC meets criteria for a Tier 1 College Prevention Program established by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and is affiliated with the Bernalillo County DWI Prevention Program.

"The alcohol presentation treats you like an adult and teaches you how to drink responsibly. It doesn’t bash you for drinking. It teaches you how to be responsible and cautious.” – Michaela Hida, NSO leader

Benedettis wants students to understand the outcome of thinking and behavior. "The active part wins,” he said. “Whatever part of your brain you are using determines your behavior. Not what you know, not what you believe, not what you think, not what you have been taught. The part you use trumps it all and determines your behavior."

The ALC clearly demonstrates that students don’t need to drink heavily to have fun.

The program is a 50-minute evidence-based workshop included in all 11 sessions of NSO for freshman. It focuses on prevention, education regarding alcohol consumption and campus resources.

Peter De Benedettis addresses freshmen at a recent New Student Orientation session.

"The alcohol presentation treats you like an adult and teaches you how to drink responsibly,” said Michaela Hida, one of the NSO leaders. “It doesn’t bash you for drinking. It teaches you how to be responsible and cautious.”

Another addition to orientation is, “The Grey area.” Developed by Angela Catena of the UNM Women's Resource Center, and presented by NSO leaders Minerva Valenzuela and Moises Ibarra, the presentation addresses sexual misconduct and assault education.

Topics such as sexual assault definitions and statistics, prevention, consent, bystander intervention and available support and resources are well covered.

NSO also includes open discussions of relevant topics with students in small groups to increase both awareness and engagement in the student population, which is the basis for a Peer Educator Program that provides orientation student leaders with knowledge and experience talking about sexual assault prevention. The Peer Education program is coordinated through the LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center in collaboration with the LoboRESPECT Student Group and the Women’s Resource Center.

Finally, students are introduced to the LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center which was established to assist parents, faculty and staff in their efforts to support UNM students.

The center provides personal advocacy from start to finish with a single point of entry, one telephone number and one physical location for any abuse victim to come for information, assistance and support. Students receive confidentiality, if they want or need it and an “around the clock” hotline during non-working hours to ensure a method to report and get assistance after normal business hours.

UNM New Student Orientation Leaders use innovative, fun approach for a campus tour