UNM’s Women’s Resource Center (WRC) is pushing for campus safety not just on main campus, but across the state, at all schools.
Their latest initiative is supporting and amplifying students in their lobbying efforts for Senate Bill 82. This bill is currently floating aimlessly in the roundhouse, as state lawmakers try to finish a hefty agenda during its latest legislative session.
“We support removing barriers for all survivors of sexual abuse, and particularly survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Reporting is hard enough; survivors should have the chance to do so when they’re ready,” WRC Interim Director Áine McCarthy said.
Senate Bill 82 would extend the statute of limitations for all survivors who may wish to report, and remove it completely for those who survived sexual abuse as children. Currently the statute is six years, which goes into effect when you’re 18, so you have until age 23 to bring charges. But we know that most childhood survivors don’t report until much later in life—age 52 on average.
It was introduced by state senators Siah Correa Hemphill, Jeff Steinborn, Leo Jaramillo and Tara L. Lujan, but has yet to be scheduled by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The delay raises severe concerns among students in light of last year’s ethics investigation into Judiciary Committee Member Sen. Ivey-Soto for sexual harassment against many women, including a lobbyist currently working on SB-82. Last session, she saw her legislation tied up in retaliation.
This bill is extra special, as it was put forward by a UNM student, well-known for her hard work and dedication to education and the community.
“Survivors deserve the opportunity to have their voices heard and the statute of limitations in New Mexico is not responsive to the needs of victims in our state,” student Abrianna Morales said.
Morales, a senior and Truman and McNair Scholar, founded the Sexual Assault Youth Support Network (SAYSN) in 2017, after her own victimization at the age of 15. SAYSN serves young sexual assault victims by providing them with support, empowerment, and connection. Created with the needs of young survivors in mind, SAYSN aims to amplify victims’ voices and stories in all arenas, including the legislature.
“My time at UNM has taught me a lot about the importance of uniting research, practice, and policy, and I endeavor to reflect that in my advocacy work,” Morales said. “Survivors’ voices need to be elevated in academic discourse, in communities, and the Roundhouse—more than ever.”
With this passion, SAYSN hosted calling parties at WRC, with a UNM Feminism in Action class. Participants called the Senate Judiciary chairs, urging them to get the bill scheduled. WRC listed this event as part of their Women’s History Month calendar, hoping to share the message that students have the power to make history now!
“We are excited to equip students with the tools to get engaged with the legislative process on issues they care about. Our students also made calls and sent emails to support House Bill 43, the Affirmative Consent bill. They know that ‘yes means yes,’ and we all wish we learned that message sooner, as that bill would ensure,” McCarthy said.
The WRC is also asking students to support SAYSN’s ‘I Am’ Series, with an event scheduled for Saturday, March 4, at 1 p.m. Started in 2017, this awareness and outreach campaign depicts survivors all over New Mexico. Through photos, stories and videos, survivors are given the chance to show that their victimization doesn’t define them. It also puts faces to the statistics on sexual violence victimization, and shows other victims that a supportive community is out there.
"Join us in this celebration of solidarity and visibility. Survivors: we see you, we believe you; we will fight for you,” McCarthy said.
Any student survivor of trauma like sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking can reach support through the WRC. There are free counselors, social workers and free, confidential advocates ready to be there for you. Find out more at the Women’s Resource Center.
Campus Safety Series Related Stories
- Campus safety through architecture, landscape architecture and urban design
- UNM Continuing Education & Jackson Wink partnership packs a punch
- Campus collaboration to debut closed door resources
- Campus Safety Lobos come first