LoboRESPECT organized the event in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and in perfect timing with respect to the Department of Justice’s visit next week.
“I get this question quite a bit: ‘When are you going to be satisfied? When is it going to be enough?’” said Thomas Aguirre, dean of students. “And I always say, ‘Until we don’t have any more sexual violence.’ One is too many in my mind, so we’re just going to keep pushing at this and keep working on this until we have created a culture where everyone feels safe.”
The forum was supported by the Dean of Students Office, the New Mexico National Guard, the Rape Crisis Center of New Mexico, the Women’s Resource Center and the Student Health and Counseling Center.
Each of these organizations is working to educate students and change the culture surrounding sexual assault.
“Bystander intervention is a big thing that we teach right now,” said Capt. Tabitha Baker, a sexual response coordinator for the National Guard. “If you see something wrong, it is up to anyone — no matter how old you are, what rank you are in the military — to stop what you see before it gets to a level that we shouldn’t have.”
Each of the experts did express an upswing in people reporting sexual assault and using the counseling services available to them. That includes a rise in male survivors reporting their assaults.
Education is one of the most important components of dealing with the issue overall, multiple experts said. Getting dialogues started and ensuring that people know to step up and protect one another is also important.
“I wish there had been a bigger turn-out, but with events like this that’s hard to do,” said Jacquelyne Eckman, co-coordinator of LoboRESPECT. “It’s been a slow start, but we’re doing as much as possible to get the ball rolling in a timely manner. We’re working up to having more events every month.”
LoboRESPECT will be hosting two more events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month this month, according to a UNM press release.
“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” will be held on April 23 at 12 p.m. in the Student Union Building Plaza. Participants will gather outside of the SUB and circle campus with the aim to bring attention to sexual assault and show support for survivors. Walking in high heels is not required, but is encouraged. The event will be held in conjunction with SHAC’s Condom-Mint’s birthday bash at the SUB Plaza from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. the same day.
Marielle Dent is a staff reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Marielle_Dent.