As part of measures to help curtail sexual harassment on its campus, the University of Ghana has created an anonymous e-mail address and a WhatsApp platform to facilitate and create easy avenues for students to report instances of sexual harassment.
"We particularly encourage people who may have fallen victim to such unfortunate incidents to take advantage of the sites and report the cases for redress," the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, said.
He was addressing the graduation ceremony of the first batch of 385 undergraduates of the College of Humanities of the university who received Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Accra yesterday.
Referring to recent media allegations of sexual harassment involving some faculty members of the university, Prof. Owusu said the management of the university had responded by taking steps to enforce its anti-sexual harassment regulations. "Following the broadcast, management set up a five-member fact-finding committee, chaired by Justice (retd) Vida Akoto-Bamfo, to inquire into the allegations.
"I am happy to inform you that the committee submitted its report to me on Tuesday, November 12, 2019,” the Vice-Chancellor said, adding: "Management will, therefore, study the report and ensure implementation of the recommendations, using the appropriate adjudicatory processes stipulated under the basic law and policies of the university."
He further said as part of ways to tackle sexual harassment, the Centre for Gender Studies and Advocacy (CENGENSA) at the university had been tasked to lead in developing a training programme to educate members of the university community on what constituted harassment.
"It is envisaged that in the not-too-distant future, every employee of the university would be trained to understand what constitutes sexual and gender harassment and how to respond to it, either as a perpetrator or a victim," Prof. Owusu added. He said after a framework had been developed, the training would be available both online and in other formats and would be extended to all students.
"We are counting on CENGENSA to consult widely and come up with a training programme that is suitable for the University of Ghana and which will deal decisively with issues relating to sexual harassment,” he said.
On accommodation, Prof. Owusu announced that the university had decoupled admissions from accommodation, “and so university admission is, therefore, not linked to the provision of beds and students would have to compete for the few beds on a first-come basis”.
He said in anticipation of the influx of the first batch of beneficiaries of the free senior high school policy, management was considering various options to address anticipated challenges.
“Currently, the university’s Land Lease Committee is in negotiation with a number of private bodies to expand housing options on campus. “The Students Representative Council of the university has also initiated a process of embarking on a 2,500-bed capacity hostel project,” the Vice-Chancellor added.
The co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Crescendo Consult Ltd, Mrs Doris Y.A. Ahiati, who spoke on the topic: “Self leadership crucial in the digital economy”, said “as a leader, you have to be in a problem to develop the most suitable, effective and creative solutions to it”. She said becoming a graduate was no longer equal to “suit and tie”, adding: “A graduate must be an analytical thinker, dissecting problems to arrive at appropriate solutions.”
The Chancellor of the university, Mrs Mary Chinery-Hesse, charged the graduands to always lift the image of the university.