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Edna Manley sets up committee to tackle sexual harassment

Published:Thursday | August 1, 2019 | 3:10 PM
The entrance to the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in St Andrew - File photo

The Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts says it has set up a committee to oversee and lead the institution’s response on sexual harassment.

The seven-member body is headed by the college’s orator, Dr Amina Blackwood-Meeks, and reports to the Principal of the College, Dr Nicholeen DeGrasse-Johnson.

In a media release this afternoon, a Edna spokesperson said that the college does not condone sexual or any other form of harassment and is committed to providing an environment that is free from discrimination, victimisation and professional misconduct.

The fine arts St Andrew-based institution has been under the spotlight following allegations by female students of sexual harassment and misconduct by male lecturers.

“While we continue our investigations into reports of sexual harassment and help victims to bring closure to their traumatic experiences, we are committed to not sparing resources in protecting students and staff from its onslaught,” the spokesperson said.

“It is our mission to regain the trust of all our stakeholders and work closely with experts to ensure that the College remains a safe and comfortable environment for all to ‘create, persevere and achieve’,” the spokesperson added. 

The Committee’s immediate mandate is to:

i. Participate in the review of all policies guiding the operations of the College, particularly the Sexual Harassment Policy

ii. Participate in such activities as may have implications for professional conduct of staff and students

iii. Collaborate with the Human Resource Management & Development Department on the development of relevant content and activities for new and returning Staff Orientation; and

iv.  Collaborate with the Student Services Department on the development of relevant content and activities for new Student Orientation and Returning Student Reorientation

The Edna spokesperson says the committee has already organised a series of outreach meetings on sexual harassment with the school community.

Further, Edna says it recently amended its policy on Sexual Harassment renaming it the Harassment and Anti-discrimination Policy.

The document is being drafted and is awaiting the Board of Management’s approval.

Edna says it will be implemented, once finalised, before the beginning of the new academic year in mid-August 2019.

The following are some of the activities that will be instituted for the upcoming academic year 2019/2020:

1. The Sexual Harassment and Anti-discrimination Policy will be explicitly stated in the Students’ and Faculty Handbook and Staff Manual;

2. Collaboration between the Possibilities Committee (to be renamed later) and the Student Services Department. The respective personnel will educate students about the issue of sexual harassment during the College’s Orientation sessions timetabled for the beginning of the 2019/2020 Academic year.

3. Collaboration between the Possibilities Committee and the Human Resource Management & Development Department. The respective officers will re-educate both new and existing staff on an ongoing basis regarding sexual harassment.

4. ‘Talking on Purpose,’ one of the College’s events which facilitates dialogue on current issues in the Jamaican and global landscape, will be used as a platform to discuss the issue at hand.

5. The topic of Harassment and Discrimination will be infused into the content of the shared Year 1 Course: The Self: Ethics and Creativity, as a means of educating and empowering students.

6. The Principal will utilise her monthly student meetings with the discrete year groups to facilitate discussions on harassment.

7. The use of accessible and relatable media such as jingles and signage on campus and in our virtual spaces will be part of the strategic articulation of the Edna Manley’s core values of: Diversity, Service, Innovation, Transparency, Commitment, Partnership, Lifelong Learning, Integrity and Ethics, Truth, and Respect.

8. The Edna Manley’s annual Gender Lecture, a public lecture promoted through the School of Arts Management and Humanities, will open the dialogue to the wider community to contribute to the national conversation on cultural shifts and to educate the public generally.

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