Student Association Wins Service Award

Eastern New Mexico University’s Student Association of Social Workers has been awarded the Six Principles of Non-Violence Award by the Portales Cultural Affairs Committee.

The Portales Cultural Affairs Committee chose this ENMU student organizations for its’ Six Principles of Non-Violence Award, which is awarded to an on-campus organization that follows Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Six Principles of Non-Violence teachings. The SASW was selected for this award for the work they have done throughout the pandemic, including their coat drive and canned food drive, voter information presentations, web series about anti-bullying and depression, and their project about military sexual trauma.

Their project about military sexual trauma dealt with the killing of Vanessa Guillén, a United States Army soldier who was killed inside Fort Hood, Texas on April 22, 2020. Her body wasn’t discovered until June 30, 2020, along the Leon River, where it had been dismembered. The perpetrator was believed to be Aaron David Robinson, a fellow member of the army, who was accused of bludgeoning her with a hammer.

Before Guillén’s body was discovered, there was an ongoing investigation into her disappearance and search for her at Fort Hood. Prior to her disappearance, according to the website that had been created to bring awareness to her disappearance, she had told her family she was being sexually harassed by a sergeant of hers, but she did not name anyone; it also said there had been other complaints from female soldier about the same person, but they had all been dismissed. However, the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command said that they had found no evidence proving this to be true.

After the Guillén remains were found, Robinson left Fort Hood and killed himself when authorities were approaching his location. His girlfriend, Cecily Anne Aguilar, was arrested for assisting Robinson in covering up the murder, the Army Times reported.

Sara Scowden, a member of SASW instrumental in planning this event, said that she “noticed [Guillén’s] 21st birthday would have been in September” 2020, and it “lined up” with what they wanted to do for an event that month. They made shirts to wear on Guillén’s birthday and eventually decided to do a workshop on military sexual trauma. The shirts they made were sold, and they donated half the money to Guillén’s family and the other half to Arise Sexual Assault Services in Portales.

SASW also planned “Dressember,” which Kelsey Walker, another member, said was for all people to wear dresses to raise awareness for human trafficking. They also did events to raise awareness for suicide prevention, and they raised money to give to international students who were struggling from the pandemic. They have also had other events involving “education and advocacy,” Scowden said.

One of their educational events last year was about adoption awareness from the birthmother’s perspective. They listened to a podcast about it and were able to have a conversation about it together and give their own perspectives.

Walker said that the SASW members are involved with this group because they want to “bring awareness and advocate for social members” that effect members of the ENMU community. She also said that they “really want to be able to help.”

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