It’s a text no one wants to receive: a Lobo Alert warning the campus community one of its own has been sexually assaulted. Students immediately wonder if it was their friend or fellow student they see every day on their way to class – and according to national statistics, they have an 11.2 percent chance of being correct.
Sexual violence on college campuses is a pervasive problem, which is why The University of New Mexico is participating—with colleges across the U.S.—in Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). It’s part of a national initiative started by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC). The NSVRC encourages people to use their voices to change the culture of sexual assault; and centered this year’s campaign around engaging new voices.
“We are thrilled to have our UNM community joining in this national effort,” says Jessica Holland, director of UNM’s Women’s Resource Center. “Over 80 percent of U.S. campus rapes go unreported which further highlights the need for increased campus prevention and support. Beyond prevention we also need to carve out a dialogue that is about healthy relationships, bystander interventions, affirmative consent and trauma informed advocacy services.”
The movement to educating young women and men on sexual violence started in the mid-1970s with Take Back the Night marches. Participants rallied to show their support for victims of sexual assault and brought attention to stigmatic issues faced by young women. These marches were held at night in solidarity with the fear and violence often experienced by these women in the dark.
In the late 1980s, NCASA formally recognize April as the month for National Sexual Assault Awareness Week, then a decade later the entire month was used to plan a larger movement with more activates for engagement.
In 2009, President Obama was the first U.S. president to proclaim April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Just recently President Trump made a similar proclamation.
In keeping with the national initiative, OEO reached out to a wide variety of campus groups, to try and engage new voices. The groups are being asked to set up information tables and also provide students with material regarding sexual assault awareness, rape myths, consent, healthy relationships, bystander intervention and/or any other topic related to Title IX and sexual violence.
UNM students can also turn to the LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center for help. LoboRESPECT is the name of UNM’s comprehensive approach to preventing and responding to sexual violence in our campus community. Their website includes information on our prevention education efforts and programs, services and support for victims of sexual violence, our policies and sanctions, and much more. All aspects of LoboRESPECT are meant to elevate and strengthen efforts to build and sustain a culture of respect in our campus community.
In addition, the UNM Women’s Resource Center (WRC) promotes the establishment and enforcement of policies and procedures which address issues of institutionalized sexism & racism, sexual harassment, and all other forms of discrimination on campus. The office provides help for all genders, not just women. Every year hundreds attend many sponsored activities and talks designed to promote awareness about sexual assault, safety and preventing sexual violence.
Campus-wide events schedule
- April 2: 1–3 p.m. Civic Plaza Rally Against Sexual Violence
- April 7: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Let’s Talk About Sex w/ LGBTQ Resource Center, SUB Mall
- April 12: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Keep Calm and Protect the Pack Rally, Smith Plaza
- April 19: 6–8 p.m. SARJ Survivors Stand @UNM, Duck Pond
- April 20: Coffee with a Cop w/UNMPD, Cornell Mall
- April 23: 6–8 p.m. Open Space=Safe Space Walk w/ABQ SANE, Trail at Tingley and Central
- April 26: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Denim Day w/LoboRESPECT Student Group, Mesa Vista Courtyard
- April 27: 7:30 p.m. I Heart Female Orgasm w/Women’s Resource Center, SUB Ballrooms
Residence Life and Student Housing also has many events scheduled for students.
With many University departments and programs hosting events this month, Holland hopes students, of all ages, across campus, are put at an advantage with the information.
“Our hope is that students leave the events with a deeper understanding of preventative measures, the advocacy and support services on campus and practical tools to shift the culture of our campus.”