Students at The University of New Mexico were encouraged to take their learning outside the classroom as part of a new, weeklong initiative to teach self-awareness, the mitigation of danger as well as overall safety support.

Safety Week, sponsored by the Office of Equal Opportunity, Women’s Resource Center, Dean of Students, Residence Life and Housing, Greek Life, LGBTQ Resource Center, and COSAP was created to empower students, staff and faculty to take action—keep themselves safe from potential violent crimes, discrimination or substance abuse.

Rob Burford, who serves as the Clery Act compliance officer for The University of New Mexico, says UNM also benefits from the students’ participation in the weeklong schedule of events.

“Sometimes people forget about the different resources as far as campus safety goes,” says Burford.  “During the campus safety walk, we would like to get the perspectives from the students—how safe they feel on campus, where the lighting might be poor at night, where there are other hazards, so we can address those areas.”

A university-wide warning siren test coupled with a shelter-in-place drill kicked off the week. Other daytime classes and activities included Alcohol Awareness and Safety, Rethinking Violence: Prevention 101, Coffee with a Cop, LGBTQ 101 and a Bicycle Registration and Safety Fair.

Safety Week activities also included taking back the night with a student safety walk. Over a hundred students walked UNM’s campus to learn more about being safe in the dark. Students were encouraged to walk with a partner if possible, learn where the blue emergency phones are located and call UNM Police for a safety escort.

“Students, in a one-mile radius of campus, can call for a free police escort 24 hours a day,” said UNMPD Officer Daniel Gallegos. “It also includes walking from building to building. We’re here to be sure students feel safe and are kept safe.”

Students were happy to learn about campus night safety initiatives.

“Having a night class, I was happy to learn about the UNM Police Department and how they keep students safe at night,” said student Maya Holt. “I realized UNM really cares about keeping students safe.”

Organizers wanted the event to be close to the start of the school year to tie into National Campus Safety Awareness Month, in September, at universities across the country.

“This is the first year that I know of that an event like this has happened at UNM,” said Burford. “There have been other safety initiatives, but to have the full week brings more awareness to the community—especially the students.”

If anyone has questions about campus safety, they are encouraged to speak to someone at Campus Safety & Risk Services. They can also contact the Office of Equal Opportunity, The Dean of Students Office, the UNM Police Department or just about any other campus office or program for support.  

“UNM cares a lot about safety for our campus. From the Administrative Office—the president’s office—all the way down to our maintenance people here.”

Safety Week is expected to return next year. Organizers are working to expand participation and messaging.