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UNM Launches "Reclaim the Red" Campaign

The University of New Mexico's "Reclaim the Red" campaign hopes to educate students about preventing sexual assault. (UNM)
The University of New Mexico's "Reclaim the Red" campaign hopes to educate students about preventing sexual assault. (UNM)
September 5, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Universities across the U.S. - including the University of New Mexico - are back in session. That means it's the start of what's known as the "Red Zone," a six-to-nine week time period when students are most at risk for sexual assault.

UNM has launched its Reclaim the Red campaign to take a stand against sexual misconduct, just one year after the U.S. Department of Justice found the school negligent in handling reports of campus sexual assaults.

Gracie Scheiderman, president of the group leading Reclaim the Red, says the campaign has two goals.

"It means that we're taking back that time during those first few months so that students don't have to be afraid for their safety, and so that we can reduce the number of sexual assaults happening on college campuses," she explains.

Last year, the Justice Department blasted UNM officials for failing to deal with reported cases of sexual harassment and assault. The university has since created a presidential task force to study the issue, and implemented other policies and procedures to reform its handling of new cases.

Studies have shown that more than 50 percent of college sexual assaults occur between late August and early November, and women are most likely to be victimized early in their college tenure.

Scheiderman says the Reclaim the Red campaign encourages UNM students to take a stand when they see anything that appears to be sexual misconduct.

"By making sure that students are aware of their surroundings, or that there is that lack of consent - being able to stand up for yourself, being able to stand up for your friends and being able to intervene whenever you see anything that needs that intervention," she says.

The University of New Mexico is not unique in its struggles with sexual assaults. In early 2016, federal investigations were underway at more than 150 colleges and universities.

Following the Justice Department's findings, UNM also implemented a mandatory online training course to educate its 27,000 students to recognize and prevent sexual misconduct.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM