How do you spell respect? If you’re talking about LoboRESPECT, the letters of the word form an acronym designed to convey how the UNM community should approach sexual violence on campus - Respond, Educate, Support, Prevent, Empower, Consent, Train. Strong initiatives that resulted from a summer-long Presidential task force, charged with combating sexual misconduct on campus, including assaults, domestic violence, dating violence and even stalking.
“We really wanted to identify high impact practices that we could implement quickly.” Dean of Students Tomas Aguirre said. “We were looking at how we could improve our knowledge, policies and responses right away to help reduce sexual violence.”
Aguirre gathered a broad-based group that included faculty, staff, students and community leaders with expertise that ranged from investigating to counseling to marketing. First, members identified and assessed the programs already in place around campus, then looked for gaps that needed to be filled with additional training and education.
They found that student groups such as incoming freshmen, first-year student athletes and residents in campus housing already receive some type of training on sexual misconduct. But big chunks of the student population including international students, Greeks, graduate students and many students who are not involved in on-campus activities may be missing out. The committee has already ramped up training efforts for these groups of students.
Aguirre emphasized that education is the number one deterrent of sexual violence on college campuses. “It’s not more security. It’s not more police. It is really about education,” he said. “It is teaching students what consent means. It’s teaching them about bystander intervention. It is teaching them what rape is, helping them understand that on a campus, it’s not typically a stranger in an alley. It involves acquaintances. It involves alcohol. It involves drugs.”
The group titled its campaign LoboRESPECT. They will be coordinating and creating programs, activities and events throughout the year to address sexual violence. University Communications and Marketing (UCAM) with input from other members, including the Women’s Resource Center and the Office of Equal Opportunity, designed and launched a website that is proactive and progressive.
Social media such as Facebook and Twitter and using the hash tag #loborespect, will help publicize the initiatives and engage the student community. Student government and other campus groups will be launching similar awareness campaigns such as the “Start by Believing” and “Step Up” initiatives throughout the semester.
Aguirre says the task force also identified and suggested changes in policies and procedures that address reporting, investigation, training and compliance for UNM administration and leaders to consider. Members are analyzing national surveys such as the “McCaskill Report” and the White House report “Not Alone,” as well as creating ways to measure UNM’s responses to the problem. The plan is to continuously update the University’s strategies for handling this complex problem.
“We need to look at everything we are doing and then ask ourselves, ‘is this the best way to do it?’” Aguirre said. “And then make recommendations and revisions if necessary.”
** "UNM educates campus community about sexual violence through LoboRESPECT" is the second in a series of articles by the University Communication and Marketing (UCAM) Department to raise awareness regarding the seriousness of the topic, highlight issues surrounding sexual violence, and to educate and inform the campus community of available resources.