The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Tonga Campus held a virtual gender awareness workshop to raise awareness about the nature and repercussions of harassment and bullying, as well as applicable policies.
The workshop, held from 27-29 September, 2021 aimed to empower staff and students to stand up against any form of harassment. USP has a zero-tolerance for sexual harassment and bullying.
Every section of the University community will undergo these awareness workshops. So far, five sessions have been conducted with a high participation rate. The sessions present an opportunity for staff to raise critical questions and offer suggestions.
Campus Director Dr Robin Havea said, “this is the first time a workshop of this nature was held at the Tonga Campus”.
“It shows USP promotes a zero-tolerance on gender inequality and all forms of harassment.”
“It is important that staff and students alike know their rights and that they are well and equally protected,” Dr Havea added.
School of Pacific Arts, Communications and Education’s (SPACE), Confucius Institute, Local Director, Dr. Akanisi Kedrayate said the workshop enabled staff and students to build healthier connections on Campus free of sexual harassment and bullying.
“More workshop awareness for the students and staff will be undertaken and held every year. The attitude about males’ role in society is still prevalent therefore community members and families will need to be educated on these,” she said.
Tonga Campus Student Association President, Robin Napa’a said the workshop allowed participants to think critically about these issues.
“It brings greater understanding to students on the University’s policies on gender issues, sexual harassment and bullying. This is a significant issue but we need to become more aware of these policies.”
She added the Campus needed a counsellor for students to access when they faced issues.
HR Officer at Tonga Campus, Melefue Puloka said, “the Policy has been there, but the virtual workshop brings it to life; it’s been an eye-opener for staff & students. Knowing these policies are in place makes the employees feel safe and comfortable and knowing they are protected”.
The Diversity Equity and Inclusion Policy (DEIP) was formulated in 2015 by the Gender Mainstreaming Committee and adopted by the USP Council in 2017. This is the overarching policy that expresses USP’s commitment and legal obligation to promote, support, and implement diversity, equity, and inclusion across the University’s 14 campuses.
To strengthen and mainstream gender in the teaching and learning process, USP now offers a Post Graduate Certificate in Gender Studies offered through the School of Law and Social Sciences (SoLASS).