The School of Arts is continuing to deal with the fallout over allegations of sexual assault and harassment in the drama department with a third discussion forum with drama students, their parents and alumni.
This follows a Sunday Times report that senior drama lecturer Tsepo wa Mamatu was suspended after being accused of sexually assaulting students.
The school held two forums last week with School of Arts students and staff. According to School of Arts head Prof Georges Pfruender, the first two forums were for the staff and students to identify core problems and suggest solutions for them. The third forum held on March 9 was to include parents and alumni in the discussion.
“We want to create a working space where both students and lecturers will feel safe and respected,” said Pfruender.
According to Pfruender, the first draft of sexual harassment guidelines will be made available to staff and students in the coming week. The guidelines include definitions of rehearsal space and practical classes. It also outlines how students and lecturers should define boundaries, especially during rehearsals.
Pfruender said that there will be two other workshops held in the coming two weeks.
“With such an important issue it will not be enough to have a once-off.”
Pfruender said that the guidelines will be put in effect immediately but policy changes need a bit more time.
It is anticipated that the investigation on wa Mamatu will be completed within the next two or three months “subject to no delays occurring and the number of witnesses coming forward,” said Pfruender.
A therapist has also been provided for Drama students affected by sexual harassment. They can book sessions at the Emthonjeni centre.
On Thursdays between noon and 2pm a therapist will be available to them without an appointment.
“This is a special arrangement for the drama students during this time [with allegations of drama students being sexually harassed],” said Nthabiseng Modikoane from the Emthonjeni centre.