The Associated Students of the University of New Mexico united the student government and the UNM Police Department Thursday during their second It’s On Us campus event.
This year ASUNM partnered with the It’s On Us campaign, a national movement started by the Obama administration in 2014, to ignite discussion of sexual assault on campus.
With help from the ASUNM Senate and executive office, senators and staff members handed out informational flyers and invited students to take the national campaign’s pledge against sexual assault.
The pledge asks signees to commit to creating a culture of consent, intervention and survivor support.
“Saying things out loud make them happen,” the pledge reads.
Thursday’s event garnered 118 student signees. In ASUNM’s first event, 211 students participated.
The pledge has been taken by over 400,000 people across the country, according to the campaign’s website.
UNMPD had two members of their Sexual Misconduct and Assault Response Team present at the event. The officers handed out materials and engaged in dialogue with students.
“We wanted to come out here to show that the police are trying to communicate better with our community,” said Patricia Young, an officer on the SMART team. “We want to keep that communication open.”
“We are really concerned about how the public sees us as a service and how they feel about coming to us when they need us. That’s the most important thing,” she said.
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.
ASUNM Senator Maddie Starkweather helped at the event in the hopes of starting discussion.
“We thought that the conversations that we start with people leave a larger, more lasting impact,” she said.
“As a student government, we’re really passionate about the students,” she added. “We are here to support and protect them. We’re here to show them that their voice is important; that their opinion is important.”
Amir Shokrollahi, a UNM student who took the pledge, said he feels the issue of sexual assault is important to talk about, especially on a college campus.
“A lot of it has to do with education,” he said, adding that events like these teach people about sexual assault and “how to be safe out there.”
The ASUNM executive office has made events like these a focus of their effort to create a campus climate where students feel comfortable talking about sexual assault.
According to the recently released 2017 Clery Report, reports of rape on campus property increased slightly from 2015 to 2016.
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.