Earlier this year the Rector's Management Team (RMT) established a task team on rape culture. Over the last two months the Task Team has made much progress in examining aspects of climate and culture and we will present a full set of recommendations to the RMT on how some of these deep-seated attitudes and practices can be addressed. Read more in a letter from Dr Birgit Schreiber, Senior Director: Student Affairs and Chair: Task Team on Rape Culture, below.
Dear students and colleagues
Earlier this year the Rector's Management Team (RMT) established a task team on rape culture. A diverse group of staff and students are members of the Task Team, setting out to examine attitudes, behaviours and beliefs about gender, violence, power and patriarchy, which in one way or another contribute to the deepening of gender violence within our campus community.
Activities to date
Over the last two months the Task Team has made much progress in examining aspects of climate and culture and we will present a full set of recommendations to the RMT on how some of these deep-seated attitudes and practices can be addressed. A website with information and resources to counter gender violence is also being developed.
A great deal of work has been done behind the scenes with regard to, among others, exploring gender balances in the Division: Human Resources, reviewing equity among staff, improving procedures and protocols for addressing crises, sexual harassment and sexual assault, and streamlining reporting on matters related to gender violence, sexual assault and rape. Key conversations with student groups, residences, PSO's, the Division: Human Resources, and other stakeholders are also taking place to examine current practices on campus that may play a role in maintaining or entrenching a culture of gender violence.
I am also happy to report that we have the RMT's full backing – see this video message of our Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Wim de Villiers.
Your feedback needed
Although a wide variety of students and staff are represented on the Task Team –providing invaluable feedback from their particular constituencies – we would like to get feedback from as many staff and students as possible. We would like to hear about your experiences, your perspective on rape culture, your suggestions on how to effect changes to attitudes and practices, and any other ideas you may have.
For this purpose, we have set up a dedicated e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org. Please use this to comment, to make recommendations, to provide information in general and to engage with the Task Team.
Soon the Task Team will also put out a climate survey, conduct interviews and hold feedback sessions to gather as much information as possible.
In the meanwhile, we want to congratulate those student leaders and staff members who have already initiated conversations and debates, and participated in other ways of creating awareness on campus. Please continue these activities in your residence, in your house, on our campus – not only during the academic term but also during the recess following the exams.
We are grateful for the many contributions received thus far and continue to assert our resolve in eradicating gender violence and rape culture. We will only be successful if we can tackle these matters together as a campus community.
Birgit Schreiber (PhD)
Senior Director: Student Affairs and Chair: Task Team on Rape Culture