ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The University of New Mexico will soon be making all students take a new online course.
The week the Justice Department announced that an investigation found UNM did not handle reports of sexual harassment according to federal law, UNM sent an email to thousands of students about a new online course on sexual misconduct that will be required.
“I think it’s a really good step for UNM,” said UNM Student Ashen Gutierrez.
“I don’t believe forcing them to do it is the way to go,” said UNM Student Brian Wilson.
The email came from the LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center, where students can report sexual assault.
“It’s 45 minutes. I think it’s time well spent,” said Lisa Lindquist, director of the Advocacy Center.
Right now, it is just a pilot program that went out to upperclassmen as an optional course, but UNM says it will be mandatory in the fall. Students won’t be able to register for spring classes until they finish the course.
“I understand where the university is coming from, but I totally disagree with the mandate and the punishment associated with it,” Wilson said.
The class talks about UNM’s policies, what “consent” means, it provides scenarios where students can think about how they would react and it includes true or false questions to gauge a student’s knowledge about the issue, according to UNM.
However, Wilson thinks weighing in on the topic should be voluntary.
“I just don’t think they’re entitled to my opinions or my beliefs or my input on the matter,” he said.
Still, UNM compares it to other requirements like orientation for incoming freshman or a workshop for graduating seniors.
“This is just another layer of something we feel is very valuable for the students,” Lindquist said. “We can’t shift the culture unless people understand what consent is.”
Other students agree.
“Knowledge is power and the more you learn about it, the better you are in any situation,” Gutierrez said.