Kampala — Makerere University Council has approved the revised anti-sexual harassment policy aimed at eliminating the rampant sexual abuse at the institution.
This followed recommendations by a committee appointed by the Vice Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, to investigate claims of sexual harassment.
The committee recommended review of the policy, which had become outdated in handling such cases.
Prof Nawangwe told Daily Monitor in a telephone interview yesterday that the new policy was approved during the ongoing Council retreat in Bushenyi District.
He said the policy has given him authority to form an ad hoc committee of 100 members to investigate sexual harassment cases.
Prof Nawangwe also said the policy requires lecturers and all staff to declare any relationship they have with their students.
"Whereas it is normal for any staff to develop mutual interest in their students, they will now be required to declare the interest so that it is known that he has a relationship or this is his wife or girlfriend," he said.
The policy also provides sanctions against officials to whom sexual harassment cases are reported and do not take action immediately.
"If cases are reported to people and they sit on them, they will be liable to sanctions. It is going to make it risky for anyone to engage in relationship with students. We are optimistic the vice will be minimised at our great university," he added.
The policy also bans lecturers from inviting students to places outside campus.
"Lecturers inviting students outside the university to consult them is being discouraged. They must do it within the university premises. If they have to do it outside, they must inform their head of department," Prof Nawangwe said.
"The lecturers will be encouraged to exercise open office policy when consulting students. If you have a student in your office, you will keep the office door open," he added.
He also said punishments will range from caution, strong warning and suspension or dismissal.
Prof Nawangwe said the policy document will be finalised by next week.
Prof Nawangwe early this year instituted a committee to investigate cases of sexual harassment following the many cases that were reported by students of their lecturers allegedly harassing them and asking for sex for marks.
The committee confirmed sexual harassment on campus which is perpetuated by those who hold big offices who threaten to fail students if they do not comply. The committee said that the cases are high towards graduation periods
The committee ecommended for the review of the sexual harassment policy which it cited being outdated.
The committee suggested that the new policy should include expulsion or dismissal of culprits, punitive fines of up to two years' salaries and compensation to the victims as part of the solutions to deter the evil practice ,registering love affairs on campus among other other harsh penalties.