Each year, the University of New Mexico requires its employees to complete a mandatory virtual safety training. This year, UNM Human Resources has made two big changes to the program.

The two notable changes include an additional Active Shooter training and a new deadline to complete these virtual courses.

The due date of these mandatory courses has been changed from Dec. 31 in previous years to Dec. 1, 2017. This change will affect all employees in every department, including on-call employees, temporary staff and undergraduate and graduate student employees, according to the UNM Human Resources website.

The other elements of the employee training courses include topics regarding sexual harassment and misconduct, titled “Intersections: Preventing Discrimination and Harassment,” and a basic course for annual safety training.

These training modules include example scenarios in which the participant can assess and expand their knowledge of appropriately handling situations of unsuitable behavior. These hour-long assessments are accessible through Learning Central for employees and are required by Occupation Safety and Health Administration laws.

The “Intersections” course contains information on ways to prevent sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, according to the UNM Human Resources website. The scenarios animated in this course range from that of a medical student in Puerto Rico who had been targeted by sexist remarks and hostile forms of sexual harassment by colleagues, to an African-American professor that was subjected to racism within his department.

“Intersections” educates on topics of discrimination, such as microaggressions in the workplace, and situations in which an employer may unjustly refuse to address hostility at work.

The purpose of this training is to educate and remind employees and authorities how to recognize and handle illegal or abusive workplace behavior and how to make a difference by positively contributing to a healthy work environment, according to the training course’s introduction on Learning Central.

The addition of the Active Shooter course has come after a number of national high-profile mass shootings. Although it is a sensitive topic to approach and prepare for, training for this hypothetical situation is needed to ensure safety for the community.

However, this is hardly the first action taken by UNM to promote safety precautions recently.

According to a report by KRQE, in June of 2017 the University introduced an Active Shooter Survival Course event. This was in response to the situation in December 2016 in which 24-year-old David Arushanov entered campus armed with weapons, claiming to want to test UNMPD’s response.

The Active Shooter training course includes slides which explain the terms associated with mass shootings and other violent situations, and gives tips on how to spot suspicious activities.

According to UNM Human Resources’ website, “The University of New Mexico’s Active Shooter course prepares you to report suspicious activity, recognize patterns of behavior that can lead to an active shooter event and how to survive an active shooter event by using ‘Run, Hide, Fight.’” The Active Shooter safety training course concludes with the phrase, “be safe and remain vigilant.”

The idea of “Run, Hide, Fight” is also explained in a video included in the training course, and it depicts an ideal response to the unfortunate circumstance which could arise from the presence of an active shooter in the workplace.

This training also provides tips for ensuring that individuals involved in this hypothetical situation are able to allow the event to be handled appropriately by authorities by remaining calm and not losing hope for survival.

Overall, according to the Active Shooter training course, the purpose of these mandatory courses is to promote the idea that a happy work environment is a safe work environment.

Rebecca Brusseau is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She primarily covers the LGBT+ community. She can be contacted at news@dailylobo.com, or on Twitter @r_brusseau.