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Assault campaign aims to create unity

The 45-second long PSA shows a diverse group of UNM students, as well as President Bob Frank and other members of University administration, saying “it’s time for a change, of real change,” concerning issues on campus that make it an unsafe environment.

The Protect the Pack initiative is the student-led side of LoboRESPECT, an initiative created in September to “combat sexual misconduct on campus, including assaults, domestic violence, dating violence and even stalking,” according to a University press release.

But Kyle Stepp, a senior organizational communication and management major and a student coordinator with LoboRESPECT, said the newly-established initiative goes beyond fighting sexual assault.

“The idea with Protect the Pack is not only sexual assault, but it’s hazing, it’s hate biases, it’s suicide, it’s alcohol and substance abuse. So anything that affects our student body, we should be protecting one another,” Stepp said.

Stepp helped organize and create the PSA, along with Jacqueline Eckman, a junior psychology and statistics double major, who also works with LoboRESPECT.

Eckman said many students are oblivious to the problems on campus that Protect the Pack seeks to address. She said her passion for combating sexual assault has grown the more she has worked with LoboRESPECT, and she hopes the video does the same for the UNM community.

“I hope that everyone will feel, like I feel, that it’s a really empowering video about uniting ourselves as Lobos and joining together to make this movement happen,” Eckman said.

She said cooperation among not just the thousands of students on campus, but the 400-plus student organizations, is integral to a successful campaign and eradicating any kind of negative or hateful influence on campus.

“It’s incredibly important. I can’t do this alone. Kyle can’t do this alone. LoboRESPECT can’t do it alone,” she said. “It’s really going to take everyone to stand up together and put an end to this.”

Dean of Students Tomas Aguirre can be seen in the video, along with members of Associated Students of UNM, Residence Hall Association leaders and UNM athletes, emphasizing the campaign’s mantra that it will take everyone to make our campus safer.

Stepp said that they drew inspiration for the campaign from UNM’s mascot.

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“Look at it like a pack of lobos; you see a pack that goes places together, they support one another,” he said. “It is the due diligence of the University to provide a safe place, but it’s also our responsibility as Lobos to keep each other safe and make sure that our classmates are doing well and making sure that there is always someone there to protect them and (provide) that sense of family.”

Eckman said LoboRESPECT is working with new student orientations over the summer to promote the group to incoming freshman and bring attention to the issues it’s working to combat.

Stepp said the Protect the Pack campaign will be out in full force when school starts up. They will be partnering with organizations and events on campus to raise awareness about hazing and abuse on campus, as well as continuing to promote the ideas of unity and community.

“We’ll also be doing trainings: bystander intervention training, training for how to tackle sexual assault, hazing, hate biases. We’re working a lot with student organization leaderships, as well as ASUNM, GPSA, Greek Life and Athletics,” he said.

Taking a cue from the PSA, Stepp said it is ultimately up to students to keep the movement alive on campus, so that UNM’s diverse population can continue to be as safe and welcoming as possible.

“I think the time is right now. As classmates and as fellow peers, it’s our responsibility to stop this,” he said. “It’s our responsibility to keep each other...in an environment where people can succeed academically and socially and thrive in all aspects of life.”

The video can be viewed here.

David Lynch is a staff reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.

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