On 29 September, #SpeakOut UP ran an Anti-Discrimination Week. Anti- Discrimination Week is the anniversary and continuation of initiatives from 2016 when UP had started the process of revising its Anti-Discrimination Policy by setting up an Anti-Discrimination Policy Working Group. The new policy was necessary to address all forms of discrimination and their intersections at UP. The policy has the objective of shaping a future where discrimination is avoided from first occurrence to establish an inclusive and affirming community. Five years later, SpeakOut UP continues to celebrate Anti-Discrimination Week and moving towards these objectives by informing students of the Anti-Discrimination Policy, their rights contained within, and what they should do if they have been discriminated against.

The #SpeakOut UP Anti-Discrimination and Social Solidarity Webinar had two segments which focused on different topics with different guests. The first segment consisted of guests from societies at UP such as Beyond Our Limiting Disabilities (BOLD), UP&OUT, and the Legal Shebeen who spoke at length about their thoughts on what discrimination is, including being inconsiderate towards people and their needs; unlearning certain ways of thinking about discrimination by creating new societal norms and respectfully calling people out when they are acting in a discriminatory manner; the importance of solidarity in acknowledging each other’s diversity and celebrating our humanity as people. The societies spoke about the support system that they offer their members such as having support groups to ensure the wellbeing of their members. In the second segment, the speakers from the Transformation Office and the Centre for Human Rights spoke about the UP Anti-Discrimination Policy (ADP). The UP ADP is detailed in terms of the procedures to be followed when reporting any form of discrimination experienced by students and staff members. The UP ADP was passed in 2019 to address issues of discrimination within the university space and how it can be accessed through the UP website and on ClickUP. The Trans Protocol was also discussed. It is a document that works with the ADP to enable transgender, gender diverse people, and non-binary individuals to navigate the university in a manner in which they are protected. The influence of the Trans Protocol in enabling students from UP to change their pronouns on ClickUP was also discussed. #SpeakOut UP spoke to PDBY about the webinars.

Was there anyone from outside the UP community who attended?

“We were not joined by anyone outside the UP community but we hope that as we continue celebrating Anti-Discrimination Week in the future, we can continue our anti-discrimination awareness initiatives beyond the University of Pretoria”. #SpeakOut Up further explained that they are thankful to have been joined by different structures at UP to provide insight on discrimination and the support offered at UP. These structures included Legal Shebeen, UP&OUT, BOLD, the Transformation Office and the Centre for Human Rights.

Did you get the desired outcome from the event? 

“We got the desired outcome from the Anti- Discrimination Week as we were able to inform people about the UP Anti Discrimination Policy and the Trans Protocol. Through the initiative #SpeakOut UP received a new perspective on the South African Constitution in terms of combating discrimination and got to hear stories from students about anti-discrimination, combating discrimination and ensuring social solidarity”.

“We as #SpeakOut UP […] urge students and staff members to read and use the Anti-Discrimination Policy and Trans Protocol where necessary so that they do not suffer in silence when experiencing discrimination”.

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