Since its inception in 2015, Lisa Lindquist has been helming the University of New Mexico’s LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center as director with a drive to give every student a place to tell their story.
The idea for the LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center began in 2013, Lindquist said, when UNM was starting to think about its response to sexual misconduct. The University ultimately decided to form the center in order to create a space that could be a single point of entry for students dealing with this issue.
“We were among the first to be considered confidential advocates in specific title,” Lindquist said.
Lindquist, a native New Mexican and UNM graduate herself, has worked in the Dean of Students office for almost 20 years. The transition from that role to her current position as director of the LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center was a natural one, Lindquist said.
“One of the things I like to tell people is that I bleed cherry and silver,” Lindquist said. “UNM’s been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember.”
Lindquist pointed out that the Women’s Resource Center and herself in the Dean of Students office had been doing an aspect of this work already, but said that the LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center is an institution that was designed to keep students from falling through the cracks.
“It was really an opportunity for UNM to bring policy and process together to formalize our response,” Lindquist said.
According to Lindquist, the work she does has so many moving pieces and she’s never really done learning.
“I would say anyone who’s in the work of support services is constantly learning new and better ways to support people,” Lindquist said.
LoboRESPECT campus advocate Michelle Dugan said Lindquist not only oversees all of the work at the advocacy center but also makes it all happen.
“The advocacy center is relatively new, but (Lindquist) has really been able to grow the program and figure out what services to offer and how to offer them,” Dugan said.
Before the advocacy center was established, UNM was implementing a sexual assault prevention program during student orientation called “The Grey Area.” This program is still active, and all students currently enrolled at UNM and any branch campus must complete this training. However, this was the only official resource UNM offered that was specifically catered to dealing with sexual misconduct for a long period of time.
In 2018, the LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center was tasked with expanding the Grey Area program and creating a more individualized training process because not all students have the same experiences, Lindquist said.
“If I’m a grad student, my interactions are going to be a lot different than if I’m an 18-year-old undergraduate student,” Lindquist said.
Because there is so much work to be done, Lindquist said that it would be impossible for two or three people to accomplish it; that’s why much of what LoboRESPECT does is collaborative, she said.
“WRC was already doing some of this work and (they have) confidential advocates within their space and so does the LGBTQ Resource Center,” Lindquist said.
Lindquist’s long history at UNM has given her more of a rounded insight into the campus and the culture, Dugan said.
“For me, one of (Lindquist’s) most valuable assets is just her institutional knowledge of UNM,” Dugan said. “Since she’s worked here for a long time, she really knows what UNM is about, what values folks have, who’s who on campus and which resources people can tap into.”
Lindquist said incidents of sexual misconduct and incidents of interpersonal relationship violence happen in all spaces, and she hopes to change how things are at UNM.
“We’re really working to shift the culture at UNM,” Lindquist said. “Even though I wouldn’t say these things are pervasive on our campus, … these things happen, and particularly among the population of students that we’re working with.”
Lindquist credits her knowledgeable team and other coworkers across campus for helping to make a difference and has a message for students who are struggling.
“I work with some really amazing people on our campus,” Lindquist said. “I find myself saying more and more that even just reaching out for help is probably the hardest part, but if you take a chance and you do that, I think you’ll find most often that it’s worthwhile.”
Emma Trevino is the culture editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @itsemmatr