To each of us, the word “respect” might have a slightly different meaning. However, if you mention “LoboRESPECT” around The University of New Mexico campus, the word takes on a whole new meaning.
Each letter in the word stands for a different way the UNM community is approaching sexual violence on campus - Respond, Educate, Support, Prevent, Empower, Consent and Train.
Each word is a strong initiative that resulted from a UNM Presidential task force, charged with combating sexual misconduct on campus including assaults, domestic violence, dating violence and even stalking.
Upon the UNM President Robert Frank’s recommendation, a broad-based group was convened two years ago that included faculty, staff, students and community leaders with expertise that ranged from investigating and counseling, to marketing. The group identified and assessed programs already in place around campus, then looked for gaps that needed to be filled with additional training and education. And the ultimate recommendation was the inception of an on campus Advocacy Center.
In the wake of Title IX, the Pilgrim Report and the DOJ investigation, along with the recommendation of the Lobo RESPECT committee, UNM determined that the most effective way to support students and the campus community was to provide confidential/anonymous reporting sites and advocates to navigate the University systems.
The Lobo RESPECT Advocacy Center was opened about a year ago as the first stop to receive support and advocacy services in the aftermath of any form of crisis including but not limited to sexual assault/misconduct, hazing and hate bias related incidents.
“Our goal is to provided students the support they need to stay engaged and safe while reaching their academic and life ambitions. We aim to increase awareness of the Advocacy Center to students, faculty and staff through training, outreach and the marketing plan to let them know we are here for them.” – UNM Dean of Students Nasha Torrez
Since its inception in 2015, the LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center has assisted more than 700 students including 70+ students for sexual misconduct advocacy. The committee also created a LoboRESPECT student group with peer mentors to encourage student involvement that works closely with confidential/anonymous reporting locations including: the Women’s Resource Center and the LGBTQ Resource Center. UNM has five advocates between all the confidential/anonymous reporting sites.
- 24/7 Hotline with a licensed counselor available to take reports and provide customized resource referrals.
- Advocacy and Crisis Intervention- such as Absence notifications, leave of absences, Short-term loans, tuition appeals and communication with faculty and departments.
- Training and outreach- sexual assault prevention, Active Bystander intervention, healthy relationships, Risk reduction and consent.
“Our goal is to provided students the support they need to stay engaged and safe while reaching their academic and life ambitions. We aim to increase awareness of the Advocacy Center to students, faculty and staff through training, outreach and the marketing plan to let them know we are here for them,” said UNM Dean of Students Nasha Torrez.
UNM also has an established a Sexual Misconduct and Assault Response Team or SMART, to serve as front line campus responders for a range of sex crimes.
“SMART is a multi-disciplinary collaborative, all committed to facilitating healing and mitigating trauma, while promoting accountability,” said Caitlin Henke, interim director, Women’s Resource Center (WRC) and SMART co-chair. SMART’s goal is to be as victim-centered and victim-controlled as possible.
“The advocates through the SMART team provide navigation through all the processes the client is interested in pursuing. We inform them about the processes, walk them through each, and make warm referrals,” she added.
Henke said that the Lobo RESPECT Advocacy Center, the Women’s Resource Center and the LGBTQ Resource Center offer confidential/anonymous support, but it is important to note that most on our campus identified as “mandatory reporters” and are required to report any sexual misconduct that comes to their attention to the Office of Equal Opportunity.
“If a student went to their advisor or a faculty member and disclosed first, with no intent to start an investigation, the student may not know that their advisor or that faculty member is required to turn the information over to OEO, which makes a determination whether or not an investigation is warranted,” she said.
The reporting party has the choice about whether or not to participate in the investigation, but has no final say in whether or not an investigation takes place, she said.
To learn more about services, support, education and training and policies, visit LoboRESPECT.