New UNM employee training says to avoid words like ‘crazy’

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The University of New Mexico faculty and staff are getting new training when it comes to words to avoid, as part of a push to make sure everyone feels more comfortable on campus.

This new training addresses everything from transgender issues, to the mentally ill, and how some common words can lead to some hurt feelings. Before the end of 2016, every single UNM faculty and staff member will be required to take the training called “Intersections: Preventing Discrimination and Harassment.”

“This year what’s new is that we’ve expanded it, from not just sexual harassment, to all forms of harassment and discrimination,” said Heather Cowan, of the UNM Office of Equal Opportunity.

It was rolled out by UNM’s Office of Equal Opportunity and focuses on identifying discrimination, and how to avoid it, in an effort to keep all walks of life feeling safe on campus.

Cowan said, “With such a diverse campus comes 40,000 identities, 40,000 perspectives.”

The training focuses on avoiding pronouns that can lead to mislabeling someone, as in saying ‘the person in blue’, rather than the ‘woman in blue’. The training also calls for faculty and staff to choose their words carefully when to comes to casually calling people ‘crazy’, ‘psycho’, or ‘schizo’.

Cowan said, “It is important to be respectful of our students, our staff and our faculty who are living with those conditions.”

A national Fox News talk show had a field day with the new rules, mocking the school’s decision to have staff undergo the training, and its guidelines relating to mental illness.

“Apparently I can’t call you crazy even if you’re acting crazy,” said Fox News Host Jesse Watters.

The training also reiterates the school’s support for transgender people to use any restroom they feel comfortable in and reminds staffers not to ask students about their gender identities.

A lot of UNM students say the training makes sense.

“It’s definitely important. I think that it’s important to be sensitive to all different types of people. I think we should always be picking our words carefully,” said Glenn Ratmeyer.

Students also say the school may have other reasons too.

“It’s always important to be cautious, especially with how important this is all starting to become, so of course they want to protect themselves from any legal issues,” said Joey Murrietta.

The training takes about an hour to complete. About 13,000 people will take it. The same program is being used at other colleges across the county.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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