On Tuesday, the Associated Students of UNM launched the first event in their effort to prevent sexual assault on campus.
ASUNM partnered with the national It’s On Us campaign, started by the Obama administration in 2014, and facilitated 211 students in taking the national pledge against sexual assault.
“This initiative is going to change lives for students at UNM as it has for hundreds of thousands of students across the nation who have taken this pledge,” Noah Brooks, ASUNM president, said.
The pledge was created through the national campaign and has been taken by over 300,000 people, according to its website.
“Saying things out loud makes them happen,” the pledge reads. “Join the movement by taking the pledge. Commit to helping create a culture of consent, bystander intervention and survivor support.”
ASUNM representatives, including senators and staff members, distributed information about the event to students on their way to class.
Several campus resource centers also attended the event, including the LGBTQ Resource Center and the Women’s Resource Center.
The ASUNM event is part of UNM’s second annual Safety Week, which includes siren tests, self-defense workshops and informational activities.
For some ASUNM organizers, the event had personal significance.
“I’ve seen firsthand why campaigns like this are necessary,” said ASUNM Deputy Director of Communications Chelsea Kaban, who helped lead Tuesday’s event.
She said the campaign allows people to take the initiative instead of just providing the information on sexual assault.
ASUNM Senator Becka Myers also spearheaded the effort, giving legislative backing to the presidential campaign position.
“When it comes from the students, it’s more powerful,” she said, adding that UNM as an institution can only do so much to prevent sexual assault on campus.
The University has faced scrutiny for its handling of sexual assault cases and is currently operating under an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.
“It’s good to try and make (sexual assualt) less frequent at UNM,” said Julian Padilla, a UNM student who took the pledge Tuesday. “I like the way they’re framing this and trying to open up and get people to join in and take the pledge.”
Rakel Karumback agreed, adding that students are more comfortable talking with peers than administrators.
“I know if that ever happened to me, I’d feel more comfortable talking to a peer than my professor,” Karumback said.
Those unable to take the pledge Tuesday can do so through the ASUNM office in the Student Union Building or online at ItsOnUs.org.
Brendon Gray is a beat reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers ASUNM. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @notgraybrendon.