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UTech promotes Respect and Tolerance with new course

Published:Friday | February 8, 2013 | 12:00 AM
An image from an amateur video shows a security guard about to strike a student allegedly caught in a compromising position at UTech last November. - Contributed

Daviot Kelly, Staff Reporter

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."