KAMPALA – The Director of Makerere University Gender and Mainstreaming, Dr. Euzobia Mugisha Baine has urged the new students to openly defy the sexual harassment vice and stand strong for their academic rights.
This was during the Makerere Freshmen’s Orientation Meeting held on Monday August 5.
Speaking to thousands of freshmen at the Freedom Square, Dr. Mugisha encouraged students to acquaint themselves with the University policy and regulations against sexual harassment.
“The policy clearly defines sexual harassment and provides its various forms. It provides details on whom you should contact and where to go in case you are harassed,” Dr Mugisha said.
She encouraged new students to let someone know right away in case a person is engaging them in actions that they don’t feel comfortable with.
“The university appointed the Sexual Harassment Committee, some of the members are placed at the respective colleges, don’t hesitate to contact them,” she said.
Makerere organizes the students’ orientation meeting, at the beginning of each academic year, which presents an opportunity to the university administration to interact with new students.
Students are given a comprehensive package that appeals to their academic and social wellbeing.
The university also provides relevant information and knowledge crucial to students stay at the campus.
Mr. Alfred Namoah Masikye, the University Academic Registrar congratulated the freshmen upon joining Uganda’s oldest institution of higher learning.
He urged students to immensely engage in the university academic activities and develop life-long passion for learning.
According to the Academic Registrar, developing a culture of studying, consultation as well as engaging in the academic activities of the university will not only enable the students achieve their academic goals but also provide a platform to attain good grades.
“You have the best professors and lecturers please use them. At Makerere University, we commit ourselves to upholding the values we cherish as an academic institution, and to fostering an atmosphere that is respectful, supportive and welcoming to all. The diversity of our backgrounds, talents and perspectives will continue to enrich us all as we live and learn together,” he said.
The Dean of Students Mr. Cyriaco Kabagambe encouraged the new entrants to read, understand and strictly follow the rules and regulations governing the institution.
“We have rules and regulations you must observe. These regulations apply to all students of Makerere University,” he said.
Makerere in July this year, suspended three members of its academic staff for alleged sexual harassment against female students.
Vincent Ssajjabi, an assistant lecturer in the School of Economics, Medard Twinobuhungiro, an assistant lecturer in the School of Business and Jackson Sekiryango from School of Languages, Literature and Communication are the latest to be suspended by the vice-chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe.
Although Makerere has a “zero tolerance” policy on sexual harassment, there have been several cases of sexual harassment and sexual assaults in the past few months.
A 2018 report on the investigation of sexual harassment at Makerere University established several factors perceived to be the major causes of sexual harassment at the university.
These include abuse of power by those holding academic and administrative authority.
Respondents argued that abuse stemmed from inequalities in power and from the exploitation of such power in gender relations, lecturer-student relationships, boss-employee relationships, and socioeconomic status.
In one of the latest cases, assistant lecturer Twinobuhungiro was recorded by his student demanding sex or else he sets a hard exam paper that will make her fail. On February 26, 2018, a female student accused Dr Swizen Kyomuhendo, a senior lecturer in the department of Social Work and Social Administration in the School of Social Sciences, of sexually harassing her. Dr Kyomuhendo was suspended, investigated and later sacked in December last year.
Also in 2018, three young females who work with Kenya Airport Parking Services reported a case of sexual abuse by a directorate of ICT Support male staff member to the Estates and Works Department of the university, which directly supervises KAPS work. KAPS was contracted by the university to manage its automated vehicle control and parking services on campus.