Vice President for Student Affairs Eliseo “Cheo” Torres said that while the Women’s Resource Center and the Graduate and Professional Students Association – the two on-campus sponsors of the Monday-through-Thursday workshops – had good intentions, “the initiative did not have clear oversight or close enough supervision to prevent the inclusion of topics that are sensational and controversial.”
“For that, UNM apologizes,” he said in a prepared statement.
Torres said the university administration recognizes the importance of offering sex education to college students, but added, “it should be done in a careful and respectful manner. We will do a better job in the future of vetting and selecting programs offered through campus groups.”
Organizers said the Celebrate Sex events, with titles such as “Sexy Mama’s,” were intended to raise awareness of sexual assault and make the campus a safer place. Testing for sexually transmitted diseases was also included in the program.
But much of the terminology used on a flier – some in English, some in Spanish – promoting the workshops raised eyebrows all around campus. The titles were couched in language that seemed to endorse oral sex, three-way sexual encounters and promiscuity.
Over the weekend, an anti-abortion group, Students for Life UNM, posted the Celebrate Sex flier on Facebook and commented: “We cannot believe that UNM is hosting an event like this! We have already sent a letter to the Dean and the President expressing our concern, and we encourage you to do the same.”
Complaints flooded into the president’s office, the WRC and the office of the dean of students. The president’s office alone received 37 emails and 15 phone calls.
Before Torres’ apology, campus officials responded with a statement noting that the events were not sponsored by the university as a whole and were paid for through student fees designated for the WRC and earmarked for educational purposes.
The statement observed that two of the more controversial workshops would not be held on campus and that those attending would have to pay an entrance fee.
WRC director Summer Little acknowledged that while the topics might be controversial, their purpose was to promote “respect, safety and safer sex practices.”