New Mexico AG Launches College Sexual Assault Prevention Initiative April 4 at HU

Las Vegas, N.M –  New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas will kick off a new initiative April 4 at Highlands University aimed at reducing sexual violence on campuses.

“I am proud to announce my office’s launch of the statewide Conscious Campus initiative to address the issue of sexual violence on New Mexico college campuses,” Balderas said. “I applaud my alma mater, Highlands University, and other participating colleges in New Mexico for taking steps toward making their campuses safer.

“This initiative brings together college and university communities, government officials, health professionals, and law enforcement to engage in a meaningful dialogue about the realities of sexual assault and connect students with critical resources,” Balderas said.

The public program for Conscious Campus begins at 6 p.m. in Highlands University’s Ilfeld Auditorium, 900 University Ave., with a screening of The Hunting Ground, an award-winning 2015 documentary about sexual assault on college campuses nationwide.

The New York Times calls The Hunting Ground and unblinking look at sexual assaults on campus.

A panel discussion following the The Hunting Ground includes:

  • Kimberly Blea, dean of students, Highlands University.
  • Colleen Dearmin, regional SANE coordinator for medical/forensic programs in New Mexico. SANE stands for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program.
  • Sophie Andar, Ed.D. certified health education specialist.
  • Tom Clayton, chief deputy district attorney, 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
  • Clarence Romero, interim chief of police, Highlands University.

The doors for the event open at 5:30 p.m., and a number of agencies will be providing resources such as HU-CARES, or Center for Advocacy Resources Education and Support, the 4th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, and Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center SANE Unit.

“It’s important for our students and the campus community to be educated and knowledgeable about how Highlands should be responding to, addressing and preventing sexual assault,” Blea said. “We also want to continue to raise awareness about campus and local resources for students and the community.” 

Since January 2010, Blea said Highlands has worked hard to establish and deliver sexual assault advocacy services and prevention education for the campus community through HU-CARES.

Blea was the founding director for HU-CARES, a position she held until February 2016.

“In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights advised campuses across the country that sexual assault is covered until Title IX as sex discrimination, shedding new light on how campuses should comply with Title IX and its requirements,” Blea said.

The Hunting Ground garnered two Emmy Award nominations, one for exceptional merit in documentary filmmaking and one for outstanding original music and lyrics. In addition, the film won awards such as the Producers Guild of America Stanley Kramer Award and the Utah Film Critics Best Documentary Award.

Kirby Dick wrote and and directed The Hunting Ground and Amy Ziering is the producer.