Monday, February 11, 2013

University of Technology launches Tolerance project post gay student abuse

UTECH launches tolerance and respect project for students and staff (TVJ video above)

Go HERE for the original post on Gay Jamaica Watch on that matter and the related video

A sensitization project  on respect and tolerance was this morning launched  at the University of Technology (UTECH).  The project "Promotion of Respect, Tolerance and Diversity" was developed in response to the November 2012 assault of one of the university's students who was accused of being a homosexual. Partly funded by the European Union, the sensitization efforts which will be undertaken throughout 2013 will address issues related to respect and tolerance particularly as it affects the rights of 
minority groups such Lesbians, Gays, Bi-Sexual and Transgender (LGBT).  

The respect and tolerance project though mainly focused on students and staff at the University is also intended to reach the wider society. It will feature sensitization sessions at each of the University's six locations, public forums, a qualitative research and national survey, essay competition among all tertiary students across the island, debates organized by the Students' Union and the purchase of CDs and print materials to be used throughout the project. The University has also committed to modifying its curriculum for the academic year 2013-2014 to address issues of respect, tolerance and diversity. 

Addressing the launch, President of UTECH Professor Errol Morrison pointed out that following the well publicized incident several measures have already been put in place and that the project comes as a well needed support to ensuring that change. "Despite some of the negative publicity which occurred some three months back we are only so happy that we are now moving on to a new threshold…We are not only attempting to reach out to the University community to create that better understanding and appreciation of difference but to reach out to the  wider society trying to engender that softer accommodating society." 

Ambassador Paola Amadei, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Jamaica commended the efforts of the leadership and administration of the University to undertake such a programme adding that only when all Jamaicans are guaranteed equal rights and freedom will it unlock its true potential.  

"Discrimination based on sexual orientation will be a specific focus in this project, as individuals still face significant obstacles to full participation in public life, hindering their ability to work, study and integrate in society without discrimination and exclusion. The great diversity of the Jamaican population is aptly represented in its motto "out of many one people". To live up to this motto members of society who are considered "different", should not be  discriminated against and to the contrary should be able to exercise the full gamut of their rights in society. "

Contact- Jodi Brown-Lindo 
Delegation of the European Union to Jamaica,  
Belize, Turks and Caicos Islands, Bahamas and the Cayman Islands 
Tel: 1 876 924 6333 

As part of its Respect and Tolerance Initiative, the University of Technology (UTech) has developed a special course targeting security companies.

Michael Steele, head of the Joan Duncan School of Entrepreneurship, Ethics and Leadership, said the course would focus on conflict resolution, values and ethics, customer service and human rights.

The course and wider initiative are a response to an incident at the campus last November where a student, accused of being gay, was allegedly beaten by two security guards after he took refuge in the guard post after being chased by students.

Two of the security guards involved are currently before the courts on various charges.

"Coming out of the incident, there were various calls for action against the security company. Some people thought we should fire the company right away," said Steele.

"We felt, as an institution, that we should take the higher road, and we should try and inculcate a certain level of tolerance by training," he added.

open to all security companies

A separate set of courses addressing issues of tolerance, respect and diversity will be inserted in the curriculum for the 2013-2014 academic year.

"We put everything in a series of short courses and have it open to all security companies," said Steele. He noted the university had started marketing the course and had sent its proposal to over 30 security companies across the island.

"We have got one or two responses but we are more or less waiting on the full response before we start the course," he said.

Steele said of the few to respond, their attitude was favourable but they were worried about the cost.

"It's a short course, so the cost is not that high but any additional cost is going to be, for some companies, a cause of concern."

He suggested companies look at the returns of investing in the training rather than just at the cost. He said the course would be available at all UTech campuses.

The Respect and Tolerance Initiative is funded by the European Union at a total cost of €9,950 or J$1.21 million.

Professor Rosalea Hamilton, UTech's vice-president of Development and Community Services, led the discussion among staff and students to form the initiative.

Hamilton noted various viewpoints were gathered from the informal sessions on the November incident, and about similar events across Jamaica. She felt participants had a better understanding of their differences and learned how to respond to some of the complex issues arising from the incidents.

Hamilton warned that not everyone will change their point of view and we would have a renewed look at what 'one love' and 'nuff respect' really mean.

"As we expand the limits of these phrases, we believe that enough of us will conclude (like Marcus Garvey) that we are all children of one God, one aim, one destiny. One love."
meanwhile feedback came from some students via a report on Radio Jamaica, RJR's newscast recently:


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