University Of New Mexico Violates Own Sexual Harassment Policy With School Event, Learns Nothing From The Experience

from the we-admit-we-were-wrong-and-vow-to-double-down dept

The University of New Mexico’s school policies are so vague and censorious that the school itself has managed to violate them. Here’s the relevant part of its policies:

The University of New Mexico’s (UNM’s) Sexual Harassment Policy (PDF) states that “[e]xamples of sexual harassment which shall not be tolerated” include “suggestive” letters, notes, or invitations. The policy also prohibits “displaying sexually suggestive or derogatory objects, pictures, cartoons, or posters,” albeit with the vague disclaimer that such displays will be “evaluated for appropriateness such as art displayed in museums … .”

As the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) noted on October 1st, not only did the policy mute protected speech (“sexually suggestive” expression being one of those), but that the school itself violated this policy with events held by the university’s Women’s Resource Center.

UNM is no stranger to sexually suggestive expression. According to The College Fix, this week, September 29–Oct 2 is “Sex Week” at UNM—a weeklong series of programs for students including “Negotiating Successful Threesomes,” “O-Face Oral” and “BJs and Beyond.” Sex Week is sponsored in part by the university’s Women’s Resource Center. Sex Week also violates the university’s own speech codes, since even the titles of the workshops—and thus any Sex Week promotional materials—are “sexually suggestive.”

These events were protested by offended students but the school defended its actions, claiming that the school was “dependent on the unfettered flow of ideas,” some of which would undoubtedly cause discomfort in its attendees. But its declaration in favor of strong speech protections is undermined by its overly-broad sexual harassment policy.

By bringing this dissonance to the school’s attention, FIRE hoped to push UNM into revising its harassment policy. After all, its own ordained Sex Week events were filled with “sexually suggestive or derogatory objects, pictures, cartoons, or posters.” No such luck. The school apologized but LEARNED NOTHING.

UNM released a statement on Wednesday apologizing for “the inclusion of topics that are sensational and controversial.” Vice President for Student Affairs Eliseo Torres promises in the statement, “We will do a better job in the future of vetting and selecting programs offered through campus groups.” (Sex Week was hosted by the Women’s Resource Center and the Graduate and Professional Students Association.)

The sexual harassment policy still stands. Even worse, the school now seems to be headed in a more restrictive direction, speech-wise — something it definitely shouldn’t do as a public university. Not only is it now going to work harder at curbing its students rights, it’s going to do so in the pursuit of the unobtainable.

Well, if Torres’s goal is excluding all “controversial” topics from Sex Week (or, worse, from all of campus), we are here to inform him that that’s impossible. Sex and sex-related topics will always be controversial. And while some coverage of the matter emphasizes workshops on bondage and masochism, it’s absurdly naive to think that no one will object if Sex Week covers only “vanilla” sex-related topics. Perhaps Torres should have simply acknowledged that UNM doesn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable and declared that the university would give up on Sex Week altogether.

You cannot please every student and you certainly can’t even attempt to do so while still respecting their First Amendment rights. UNM is a public university and Constitutional rights take precedence over school policy. What should have happened — a realization that its policies are too restrictive — didn’t. Instead, the school is now drifting in a more censorious direction, thanks to having its own inability to follow its policies pointed out to it. The school administration needs to do what it’s trying to help its students do: grow up. The student body may be made up of unique individuals, but it is not composed of a few thousand centers-of-the-universe. The rest of the world doesn’t need to adjust itself to please the complainers. And it won’t, not once these students leave the artificial shelter provided by these policies borne of hand-wringing and apologies. Nothing about these policies do any favors for those they’re meant to “protect.”

Susan Kruth sums this ridiculousness up with the unofficial motto of FIRE:

[I]f you get all the way through your college career without being offended, you should ask for your money back.

Filed Under: ,
Companies: university of new mexico

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “University Of New Mexico Violates Own Sexual Harassment Policy With School Event, Learns Nothing From The Experience”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
AJ says:


I believe in sex ed, it’s important and it should be part of our school curriculum, but this crap is absolutely ridiculous.

“a weeklong series of programs for students including “Negotiating Successful Threesomes,” “O-Face Oral” and “BJs and Beyond.””

No way am I letting my kid go to a school that offers programs like the above. I realize sex and relationships are part of life, but I’m sending my kids to school to become scholars, not sluts.

” Yes Mr. Johnson, we here at the University of New Mexico offer a wide variety of extra curricular programs for your daughters education needs. O-Face Oral and BJs and Beyond are still accepting new members, those should fit her nicely… should we expect her to start winter quarter?”

I would STILL be kicking that guys ass…..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: wth

You do know that there are actual adults who have some free thought, right? Maybe, just maybe there should be room for others with another opinion about sex than the traditional “we don’t talk about it” way?
Or is it that you disagree about the names? Because this way you know for sure if it is something you want to hear or not, instead of “learn how to please a banana”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 wth

No one is implying that there shouldn’t be open and honest discussion about safe sex. No one is saying that people shouldn’t have free thought or opinions about sex. But IMO, offering these types of workshops, on school property, at an official school function, is inappropriate and a distraction… and against their own school policy.

The point of this article is to point out the hypocrisy of the school, hypocrisy noted…. however, are we setting the correct educational environment in the first place for our young adults when we have “sex week” with courses in oral sex and threesomes?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 wth

The funny thing about free thought is that it doesn’t actually exist. Thought is just an equation built from inputs and variables that an individual does not control, which interact with the makeup of their brain, which they also do not control. In addition, the makeup of an individual’s brain is greatly influenced and molded by those same inputs and variables – otherwise known as the totality of their past and current environment and their life experience.

So when you mention the traditional “we don’t talk about it” way, and imply that that somehow relates to thought that is not free, you should be aware that the nontraditional way of “talking about it” also relates to thought that is not free in the same manner because neither state of mind is determined by a choice or preference the individual made or has any control over, but by the enviroment and culture they grew up in and how both interacted with the configuration of the neurons in their brains.

Wait… I just jumped the shark on a freaking sex thread

AJ says:

Re: Re: wth

“You do realize these are not being put on by the school and that this is college”

The title of this article states “school event”… put on by the school, sanctioned by the school, I’m not splitting hairs… it’s happening at the school, and they are allowing it.

“so everyone there is an adult, right?”

yes, they are adults, adults in the eye’s of the law perhaps.. but most are just reaching maturity and are still working on their decision making abilities…. Call me old fashioned if you want, I just honestly don’t think that school is the right place for them to learn how to solicit threesomes and/or perfect their oral sex skills.. call me old fashioned if you want.. idc

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: You can only force a chick to stay in the nest for so long

So where would you rather they learn those skills if they are curious about them? In a safe, educational environment like the workshops offered, or from some random person they run into later in life, where if they’re lucky the other person knows what they’re doing, and if not they’re both completely clueless, potentially to their detriment?

AJ says:

Re: Re: Re:2 You can only force a chick to stay in the nest for so long

How about with a partner that they love and trust? How about instructional video’s? How about books.. how about good old fashioned experimentation? Look, I would not object to a class in school that goes into sex related skills. I actually think it’s a good idea.. but that’s not whats happening here. Here we’ve dedicated a whole week to it and are having workshops … it’s been glamorized and brought right up to the front line of education with math and science.. I can’t help but be concerned that it will cause behavior and activities that would otherwise have not been that important to the student.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 You can only force a chick to stay in the nest for so long

The partner may be as clueless about it as they are, as for videos and books, while good, you can’t ask question of those if you don’t understand something or need clarification on something.

As for the second half, I’m not really seeing it myself. Could a student, exposed to something new by the event try something they might otherwise not have? Sure, but so what? They might have encountered the same thing later on in life, and tried it then, or decided not to try it due to lack of interest, they’re old enough they deserve to be able to make that decision themselves.

AJ says:

Re: Re: Re:4 You can only force a chick to stay in the nest for so long

Luckily, we can disagree.
If you want to send your kids to a school that offers “Negotiating Successful Threesomes,” “O-Face Oral” and “BJs and Beyond.”, you are welcome to do so. My kids on the other hand, will be strongly discouraged from going to a school that offers those types of programs… and when I say discouraged, I mean financially discouraged.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 You can only force a chick to stay in the nest for so long

So, they will be going to a school run by the American Taliban.

Many non-helicopter parents encourage their offspring to select a place of higher learning rather than dictating to them as though they were still children. This, some claim, leads the young adult(s) to assume responsibility for themselves and thusly move on toward a fulfilling adult life. Some parents, however, find it hard to let go.

AJ says:

Re: Re: Re:6 You can only force a chick to stay in the nest for so long

“So, they will be going to a school run by the American Taliban.”

Really? American Taliban!!?? I wouldn’t force them to go to any school, but I would remove some schools from the list. Life is full of compromises, they want me to foot the bill? Fine, then I’ll have a say in it.. they want to go it alone? Then I would offer them advice, but they could do what they want. Either way, In the end, it would be their decision.

I'm_Having_None_Of_It says:

Re: Re: Re:6 You can only force a chick to stay in the nest for so long

Wait, when did calling out deviant sexual acts (which, thanks to porn, are becoming the norm) as unsuitable for a Women’s Resource Center to be providing advice to female students on, become an act worthy of the Taliban?

If anyone disagrees that porn is corrupting our society, we’re looking at the proof that it is. Do you really want to think of your daughters taking part in threesomes?!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: wth

“You do realize these are not being put on by the school”

You do realize that university funding was provided

“this is college — so everyone there is an adult, right?”

In many areas of law, such those dealing with child-support payments, alcoholic beverages, and other matters, college-age people are essentially still considered minors.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 wth

Yes, but this has nothing to do with whether or not they’re college students. But I just realized that the AC said “college-aged” not “college students”. I just had a reading comprehension glitch.

In any case, what we’re talking about specifically here are events about sex. I am unaware of a single place in the US where the age of consent is older than 18.

Anonymous Coward says:

Academia strenuously argues “freedom of speech” ideals whenever pushing something that many people find objectionable, yet at the same time takes draconian measures to stifle speech that many people agree with — whenever that speech upsets those occupying the ivory tower.

Conservative columnist George Will had his speaking engagements cancelled as punishment for writing this article that criticized colleges ‘progressivist’ sexual attitudes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Poor George – self inflicted wounds are the worst.

Rest assured, his freedom of speech was not infringed upon as a result of the school revoking the speaking arrangement. He is still free to speak his mind in the village square or elsewhere to his hearts content, but the school has no obligation to pay him for his opinions.

On a side note, did you actually read his ridiculous opinion piece or just the biased blather which supports it?

Sadly, the only type of sex approved by some conservatives is of the non-consensual type.

I'm_Having_None_Of_It says:

Re: Re: Re:

To be fair, though, we need to be teaching boundaries to women and girls. In our society, we can’t win. If we don’t put out, we’re told it’s because we’re repressed and in need of liberation. We are lectured day and night about the need to be pleasing to men in every way. Now they’re providing classes on how to please men sexually in our damned colleges.

We need to teach girls that it’s okay to say no and to kick the creep out of our beds and send him on his way if he doesn’t like it without feeling that we’ve somehow let our whole gender down.

JWW (profile) says:

Cognitive Dissonance

The cognitive dissonance here is almost overwhelming. This event at UNM when looked at in the context of the newly demanded consent guidelines basically boils down to:

Almost anything is accepted


Nothing is allowed

I have no idea how the consent rules can actually be billed as “Yes means yes” when they clearly are really more like “Yes means yes until it means no and it can be changed to no at any time”.

It is notable that while they apparently had lots of sessions on different sex activities, they didn’t have one that discussed consent rules. That is because the consent rules are designed to be indescribable and impossible to logically comprehend.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Cognitive Dissonance

Your inability to comprehend basic tenets of society are duly noted.

For you edification, it is note worthy that this particular institution of higher learning is located in New Mexico whereas the “yes means yes” law to which you refer was passed in California. These are, apparently, two separate states within the union each having little to do with laws in the other. I know this may be difficult to grasp, but please, do give it a go.

TheLoot (profile) says:

“…held by the university’s Women’s Resource Center”
Like any college would EVER criticize one of those groups.

Of course, if it was a “Men’s Resource Center” (if they ever allowed one to exist in the first place), they’d be throwing everyone in their Kangaroo court on “sexual assault” charges by the end of the day.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

So in answer to the question about whether “this particular Women’s group has not been criticized, as you alleged, you claim that it is up to others to provide evidence that it has.

Maybe it would be better to just admit that you have no idea.

And, btw – women in the athletic dept are there only because the dept is forced to fund a few minor programs that will not interfere with the football team.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The left – that’s a hoot.
There is no left anymore, and if there were you wouldn’t be able to tell what the hell it was even if it bit you in the ass.

Hypocrisy is an interesting topic, I’m sure you are well acquainted with it. It knows no bounds, certainly not political bounds.

And opinions, about whether one group is worse than another in any particular category … are like assholes – everyone has one and they all stink.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...