A new group called Campus Watchers is trying to draw attention to sexual assault on campus and hopes to bring the UNM community together to fight the problem.
The group is made up of members of the Agora Crisis Center, a student-run crisis hotline; Students Educating Peers About Sex; Triota, a Women’s Studies honor society; Rainndrops, a national anti-sexual assault group; and Albuquerque Rape Crisis Center.
“This isn’t a response to any single incident, it’s more of a response to the complacency and lack of knowledge about sexual assault,” said Jeremy Jaramillo, president of Students Educating Peers About Sex. “You can read a lot into the word ‘watchers’ and understand what this group is about. We want people to become more aware and watch out for others on this campus.”
Jaramillo said it is Campus Watchers’ goal to work with the community and bridge gaps between students and administrators.
“We aren’t angry — we just want to do something positive and productive,” said Marie Kohl, a UNM student and Rape Crisis Center advocate.
The group is asking people to wear black on Thursdays and help it distribute black ribbons Wednesdays at 6 p.m. The group members have asked people to meet them at the benches outside Mitchell Hall.
“Black is an international symbol of activism,” said Tiffany Shelton, a UNM student who is in Triota and Students Educating Peers About Sex.
Jaramillo said the group is hoping to draw more people weekly, leading up to an anti-rape forum on April 12 from 1-5 p.m.
Nicola Trevisan, a UNM student and member of Students Educating Peers About Sex, said she is supporting Campus Watchers because she is tired of seeing the misunderstanding that goes with nonconsentual sex.
“College students are too trusting of their peers and that’s where the majority of campus rapes come from,” she said. “Most people on campus don’t think about acting safely and wisely, and that’s what motivates me to get out and make people aware of the problem.”
Kohl said her experiences as a rape advocate have frustrated her, prompting her to take action.
“I’d rather get a parking ticket and a $50 fine for parking on campus than walk alone in the dark on campus, and it is sad that those are my only real options on campus,” she said. “I know the majority of the problem comes from people you know, but I still don’t feel safe on this campus.”
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Shelton echoed Kohl’s concerns.
“I don’t think that this campus is safe, but I also don’t think this world, this country, this state or this city are safe, and I am tired of it,” she said.
Jaramillo is the only male member of the group and said he hopes to get more men involved in Campus Watchers.
“We want to look at it from all perspectives,” he said. “We want to help everyone realize that sexual assault is everyone’s problem.”