UNM warns staff that terms like 'crazy,' 'psycho' can 'stigmatize' colleagues

The University of New Mexico (UNM) is the latest university to join the long list of institutions that mandate sensitivity training for staff.

The Daily Lobo reports that UNM will now require all faculty and staff to complete “Intersections: Preventing Discrimination and Harassment,” a course aimed at preventing sexual misconduct and gender discrimination, by December 31.

The one-hour training deals with a bevy of issues, such as advising participants “to support colleagues with psychiatric issues by avoiding the careless use of terms that may stigmatize,” with “crazy,” “psycho,” “schizo,” and “bipolar” all offered as examples of language to avoid.

The training course also tackles gender discrimination issues and mandates that faculty and staff “support gender neutral restrooms and affirm that individuals may use whichever bathroom that aligns with their gender identity,” according to the Daily Lobo.

Faculty must not “announce someone’s transgender identity without their permission, or ask them about their ‘real name,’ or surgical status.” The training also states that identifying a person as “the woman in blue” can be marginalizing, and instead guides faculty to use gender-neutral phrases like “the person in blue.”

According to the training course, everyone has unconscious biases, and “awareness of these biases is not always enough,” so “it is important to take concrete steps to reduce or prevent the negative impact our unconscious biases might have on our co-workers.”

The training also seeks to root out false claims of harassment and allows the university to punish students or faculty for making claims with “reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the claim.”

"The course on preventing harassment has been mandatory at UNM for many years," Heather Cowan, UNM's Title IX coordinator in UNM's Office of Equal Opportunity, told Campus Reform in an email, adding that  

"The changes to the course are really just about making it more interactive, interesting and engaging. It uses more multimedia to ensure different learning styles are all engaged. The content is the same--what are the laws, what are the policies, what are the responsibilities of staff and faculty, how to recognize harassment and discrimination, how to respond appropriately, how to report," she wrote.

The course is provided under contract to UNM by LawRoom, a company which creates trainings for colleges and universities around the country. The school has "gotten a lot of positive feedback from staff and faculty who have taken it," according to Cowan

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @ChrisNuelle

This story has been amended since its initial publication.