The LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center, a new office designed to provide information and support to students and university community members dealing with sexual violence, misconduct, and harassment, celebrates its grand opening on the University of New Mexico campus Friday, Sept. 25.
The LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center offers people one-on-one, confidential interaction with advocates trained to address a variety of issues; everything from sexual violence, to hate bias, bullying, and hazing. Located on the second floor of UNM’s Advisement and Enrichment Center, the office is also a place where people can go to report any traumatic event.
“People didn’t really understand how they could report that sort of incident, what options were available to them once they reported, and kind of where it all began,” said Lisa Lindquist, the center’s director.
Lindquist said giving people a defined, centralized location to get support and information was a big reason why they wanted to open the facility.
“While a lot of students know about the available resources here on campus, I would probably argue that the majority of our students don’t,” said Dean of Students Tomás Aguirre. “And then when you’re looking at a student that’s been recently victimized, it’s even more confusing. So, having a sort of first stop model where students know that they can go to this one place, or call this one number, I think it’s going to be really successful and I think it’s really going to help.”
The center is another part of UNM’s LoboRESPECT initiative, an approach aimed at preventing and responding to sexual violence on campus.
“LoboRESPECT started off as a campaign to specifically address sexual violence here within the University community,” said Aguirre, who is also the chair of LoboRESPECT, “then it evolved into a model that we use not only to tackle sexual violence but to address other issues like hate bias, or hazing, or alcohol abuse. And the Advocacy Center is sort a physical manifestation of that model.”
Aguirre said the idea for the center came about more than two years ago but has gone from a concept to an actual space in last six months.
“President Frank’s focus on sexual violence, making campus safety and community safety a priority, I think gave it just a little more momentum,” said Aguirre.
The center also provides information on short term loans, semester withdraws, and helps students navigate the petition process for scholarships and financial aid. There’s also a 24/7 hotline available for people to report incidents or get information any time of day.
Along with support services and information, Lindquist said there’s also a focus on education and training within the center. She plans to work with campus and community partners to develop and implement training for students, including online programs on sexual assault and misconduct.
“It’s about making a change in our culture. I think that’s what the center is really going to be about, is how do we change a culture where sometimes those things are accepted. So, we need a shift,” said Lindquist.
The LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center is located in Room 262 in the University Advisement and Enrichment Center. It is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For 24/7 access to an advocate, call (505) 277-2911.
For more information on the LoboRESPECT initiative: LoboRESPECT