New Mexico State University is educating new students on tough issues such as domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking before they even step foot into a classroom.
Prompted by the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act of 2013, NMSU has implemented training to all incoming undergraduate students at the new student registration and orientation programs.
The SaVE Act, which is a federal initiative, mandates how sexual misconduct on college campuses and universities is handled and seeks to address violence on campus. The legislation is an update to the Jeanne Clery Act. The goal of the SaVE Act is to have transparency, accountability, education and collaboration.
“The federal government wants to ensure that students know what to do, they know where to go for help, and they know where to go for guidance,” said Bernadette Montoya, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management. “We took it a step further than a lot of other institutions in that we are requiring this as part of orientation to ensure we are reaching every new student entering the NMSU system.”
At the new student registration and orientation programs, which are now mandatory at NMSU, Dean of Students Michael Jasek talks to incoming students and their families about the students’ rights, responsibilities and the resources available on campus for victims and bystanders of sexual misconduct. For those unable to attend orientation in Las Cruces, an online version also is available through the MyNMSU portal.
NMSU hosts orientation events from April to August. Montoya said the feedback from the first training session was positive.
“We want to ensure that we are a safe and caring community,” Montoya said. “We all have a responsibility, and we all play a role in supporting the safety on campus. It’s not just the work of the police. When we see something, we have a responsibility to report it.”
One of the requirements of the SaVE Act is for incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking to be disclosed in annual campus crime statistic reports.
NMSU is not just focusing on new students, but will host other events throughout the academic year to educate continuing students.
“There will be programs primarily through WAVE and our counseling center that will help support students’ ability to understand that we are a caring community, and what they need to know to be safe and to help others be safe as well,” Montoya said. “Programs throughout the university system that include our community colleges also are being implemented.”
Information from: NMSU