Anti-Discrimination Week overview

NTOMBI MKANDHLA

In light of drafting a new anti-discrimination policy, UP ran an Anti-Discrimination Week from 28 August to 1 September across all UP campuses.

UP’s Anti-Discriminationwebpage says the drafting of a new anti-discrimination policy was meant to “prevent discrimination in all its forms on all its campuses”. It adds that it seeks to “establish a community with a culture that is inclusive and affirming to all its members”.

A group of UP staff members were appointed to the Anti-Discrimination Working Group Committee and acted as overseers of the entire project. Pierre Brouard, Deputy Director of The Centre of Sexualities, Aids and Gender (CSA&G), sits on the committee. On discrimination, he said they often “work together” as “people have multiple forms of identities”. He gave the example of a black, lesbian foreigner who can be victimised across the board for her identity. For this reason, he highlighted the importance of a policy that will “work together” with the multi-faceted UP community.

Brouard explained that management invited all UP constituencies to “initiate their own events”. “The departments were invited to develop their own works”, he said. The Faculty of Vetinary Sciences, through its Marketing and Communication division, encouraged its students to create posters and articles for the Onderstepoort website and publication. Throughout the course of the week, the faculty also hosted debates on discrimination for both its students and staff members.

The Faculty of Theology started off their initiatives with a round table discussion on anti-discrimination, headed by the faculty’s Transformation Committee, on 28 August. Other events during the course of the week included discussions on issues such as homophobia, xenophobia and racism, and the role of the church in addressing such issues.

Posters on anti-discrimination were placed in communal areas of the Faculty of Health Sciences. In addition, students and staff were invited to express their views on anti-discrimination on whiteboard paper provided.

Visual Culture Honours students in the Faculty of Humanities ran photo essays. The programme of events describes the initative as a means to “create an awareness of the benefits of including the arts in healthcare services and to address discrimination against psychiatric patients and institutions”. The Humanities Transformation Committee also held a transformation talk on colonialism and its legacies on 30 August.

The Faculty of Education’s events included talks on the psychological effects of racism and a debate on the concept of anti-racism. The Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences (EMS) provided suggestion boxes at the building’s entrances, and an electronic link for submissions on suggestions on enhancing diversity and inclusion.

On 29 August, the Transformation Committee of the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and IT (EBIT) held a transformation discussion to tackle issues of discrimination.

A campus wide anti-discrimination and diversity consultation was held on 31 August in the Sanlam Auditorium. Brouard admits that there were a “few” students present as getting student participation is “challenging” despite extensive advertising through posters and emails. “I suppose there needs to be a more creative way in engaging with students,” he said.

Brouard added that the Anti-Discrimination Working Group Committee is working on developing a draft policy that will be distributed for comment.

 

 

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