The University of New Mexico is taking a new approach to dealing with reports of sexual attacks on campus. The Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) is designed to ensure a victim not only has the most effective services available but also has a choice in how the case is handled.
UNM Police Chief Kathy Guimond, who spearheaded the formation of SART, describes it as a victim centered, victim controlled response in which confidentiality is key. “What makes it so special is cooperation, coordination of resources,” Guimond said.
SART has four components: Medical, Counseling, Law Enforcement and the Academic Conduct process. Team members are made up of campus and community organizations that already provide those services, but SART offers a more comprehensive response which puts the victim in charge.
"A victim can choose to use all of the resources that are available or pick one or two or three, whatever they choose,” Guimond explained. “It returns a measure of control to a person who has had that taken away by a crime.”
Summer Little, director of the Women’s Resource Center, is the co-chair and spokesperson for SART. “The newest, and most important, piece is that all of the departments and agencies that serve victims of sexual assault will collaborate to provide more efficient services and processes to help them toward healing,” Little said.
With two new housing units, Lobo Village and Casas Del Rio, the number of students living on campus has almost doubled in the past few years, making evenings and weekend busier. SART is one of the increased safety measures being implemented in response to the larger campus population. UNMPD is also adding four new police officers this fall and is offering on-line reporting of property crimes to allow officers to spend more time out on patrol and less time filing reports.
Organizations represented in SART include the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE), Student Health and Counseling (SHAC), Rape Crisis Center of Central New Mexico, Counseling and Referral Services (CARS), UNM Police Department (UNMPD) and UNM Dean of Students.
More information is available at the SART website.