It’s been two years since “Grey Area Training” became mandatory at the University of New Mexico, and a few changes are expanding the program to more students.
A two-year report compiled by the University on the program showed between March and Oct. in 2017 there were 76 undergraduate training sessions completed and 13,982 undergraduates were trained. There are now additional models for graduate and professional students.
In 2016, UNM entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice after a two-year investigation into University practices of documenting and investigating reports of sexual harassment and assault. UNM was one of a few universities under investigation.
As part of the specific steps to change and clarify policies, UNM was also required to provide training to:
- Provide comprehensive and effective training to all students, faculty and staff that gives notice of UNM’s prohibition on sexual harassment, including sexual assault;
- Ensure the training includes information about reporting duties, details on where to go for assistance, and information on grievance procedures and potential outcomes;
According to LoboRESPECT’s website “The Grey Area,” is approximately two hours in length and is comprised of a large group session and a smaller, interactive session. Sessions examine bystander intervention, domestic and dating violence, sexual harassment, assault, consent and resources for reporting at UNM.
Lisa Lindquist is the director of LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center. She’s been employed at the University for 17 years and spent just over a decade in the Dean of Students office. Lindquist said her work in advocacy was unexpected, but rewarding.
“Without prevention education it’s really hard to move the needle and understand ways in which you can, as one individual person, affect change,” Lindquist said.
“The Grey Area” is a one-time in-person training, the “Think About It” is an online module that acts as a refresher that students take annually. Lindquist said both the models go “hand-in-hand” with each other.
The company that develops the curriculum, EVERFI, also makes the sexual harassment training that is mandated for University employees.
Lindquist said there are potential consequences for students that do not take the mandatory training, but she emphasized none of them have been implemented.
“We share with students that potentially they could have a hold on their account. But I think it’s important to clarify that up to this point we have not put any holds on student accounts,” Lindquist said. “And we would never prevent a student from graduating just because they didn’t complete their training.”
Lindquist said the point of the program is not to punish students, adding that the training is offered to encourage students to take the training.
“Our goal is to not have any consequences, our goal is to be more preemptive,” Lindquist said.
There are three categories of people who facilitate the trainings: Student Orientation Leaders, who lead freshman orientations during the summer, trained staff and student volunteers.
Peers are trained to lead the small-group discussions. Lindquist said it makes a more authentic and relatable learning experience.
“I can’t say that my world experience is the same as (a student’s) world experience,” Lindquist said. “I think it makes more sense when peers can have an open conversation about what resources are available to them and share stories, advice and thoughts.”
Lindquist said these peer-to-peer facilitators for the small-groups are volunteers. LoboRESPECT currently has two professional, paid trainers to lead the large-group trainings, and are hiring a third.
She said the most rewarding part of her job is when students reach out telling her the training was impactful.
“We’ve had so many people write to us and tell us (the training) was meaningful, valuable. Those things are the things that help me know that the conversations are happening, and that’s how you shift culture,” she said.
According to the latest report for the DOJ, a professor in Political Science is leading a study to examine “The Grey Area” training on student awareness of sexual assault and gender norms.
Danielle Prokop is a staff reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @ProkopDani.