Highlands Marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month April 15 – 30

Photo of Ruthy Watson

Ruthy Watson, director of HU-CARES

Las Vegas, N.M – Highlands University is marking Sexual Assault Awareness Month April 15 – 30 with a slate of activities aimed at reinforcing awareness of sexual assault issues.

“We are encouraging people to take action by taking steps to prevent sexual assault and support victims,” said Ruthy Watson, director of the university’s HU-Center for Advocacy, Resources, Education and Support (HU-CARES). “Examples include speaking up when you see inappropriate behavior and listening in a non-judgmental way to an individual who has been assaulted.”

HU-CARES is sponsoring the events, with the public invited to participate in all but one, April 16th’s student-focused residence hall workshops.

April 15 – “Chalk the Walk Day”: The campus and Las Vegas communities are invited to write supportive messages against sexual violence on sidewalks around campus. Chalk is available from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.  at the university’s Student Center Atrium, 800 National Ave.

April 16: HU-CARES workshops will be presented to students in the university’s residence halls. These talks deal with information about sexual consent and awareness of alcohol use surrounding sexual assault and domestic violence. This event is not open to the public.

April 17 – “Denim Day”: People on the university’s main campus are encouraged to wear denim in protest of sexual violence.  There will also be decorating of denim items at the Student Center atrium from 1 to 3 p.m. “Denim Day” became an international protest after a 1999 Italian court decision overturned a rape conviction because the victim had been wearing tight jeans, and according to the judge, must have assisted in removing them. The next day, female Italian Parliament members all wore jeans to their offices in protest. Twenty years on, this has become an international event.

April 18 – “No More Day”: People are asked to take a pledge to end sexual assault and domestic violence by signing the “No More” pledge banner from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the Student Center atrium. Photos will be taken and tagged in social media using the hashtag #nomore.

April 30“Brown Bag Lunch and Learn Day” at 12 p.m. in Sininger Hall, Room 201, features speaker Julie Kay from Community Against Violence, Inc. of Taos addressing issues surrounding sexual assault.

Watson said several HU–CARES activities are also planned at the Highlands University Centers. The university’s Albuquerque Center will sponsor a “No More Day” April 23 and a “Denim Day” April 24. On April 30, the Rio Rancho Center will sponsor a Rape Crisis Center presentation.

Watson said sexual assault is still a major problem on college campuses and in the general population across the nation.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in five college women in the U.S. are sexually assaulted during their college years, Watson said. “In addition, according to the No More Project, one in four women and one in nine men in the U.S. will experience sexual violence from their partners in their lifetime.”

HU-CARES provides free confidential support services for Highlands students. The office is in Suite 306 on the third floor of the Student Center. Call 505-454-3529, email preventviolence@nmhu.edu, or visit the website at www.nmhu.edu/hu-cares.