AUN, Yar'Adua Foundation Partner to Deploy Whistleblowing Platform Against Harassment, Bullying

AUN, Yar'Adua Foundation Partner to Deploy Whistleblowing Platform Against Harassment, Bullying

The enforcement of a zero-tolerance policy against sexual harassment, bullying, assault, wrongdoing, or any form of corruption at the American University of Nigeria received a further boost on Tuesday, November 16, 2021, with the introduction of a whistleblowing platform.

This is the first of its kind in any university in Nigeria, private or public. The platform allows any AUN community member to report—anonymously-- any violation of the University's Safeguarding and Sexual Harassment policies.

Under President Margee Ensign, those policies have been rigorously implemented, and now there is technical support and a guarantee of anonymity for students, faculty, or staff who choose to report wrongdoings.

AUN Community members are already conversant with the Student Code of Conduct, the Sexual Harassment policy, the Academic Integrity Code, and the Zero-tolerance Policy Against Alcohol and Illicit Drugs on campus.  We all know the unrelenting commitment to enforcement.

President Ensign reiterated this commitment in her opening remarks at the launch witnessed by a full-capacity audience inside the Commencement Hall.

"The aim of this platform is to keeping AUN community safe for all, to make sure AUN is safe, and a comfortable place to live and learn free from any form of harassments."

On the significance of the Whistleblowing Platform, President Ensign said it provides an easier, more efficient, and effective way for people to report bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, or sexual assault.

Several AUN parents who joined the launch via zoom complimented the President for this innovation and pledged their wholehearted support for its implementation.

Mr. Amara Nwankpa, the representative of the Shehu Musa Yar'Adua Foundation, who designed and developed the Whistleblowing platform in conjunction with AUN's Office of Technology Support (OTS), commended AUN for being the first Nigerian university to take such a bold and incisive step toward safeguarding its campus and creating an atmosphere free from fear.

"I want to applaud the AUN management for making this project happen. AUN has been pioneers in creating safeguarding policies to make the learning spaces safe and the Shehu Musa Yar'Adua Foundation is proud to be partnering with this university to promote a safer university campus that will increase gender equality".

"The whistleblowing platform will provide members of the community a safe and easy way to take actions if they find themselves on the end of institutional or gender power asymmetric."

A video clip curated by the foundation titled “Making Education Spaces Safe for Women” was aired.

Mr. Nwankpa and AUN's Chief Technology Officer, Engineer Francis Chaming, took time to explain all modalities involved in using the platform.

Assistant Professor in the AUN School of Law and a leading facilitator of the safeguarding policy, Dr. Erebi Ndoni, explained the policies in detail.  She briefed the community about what constitutes sexual harassment and related offenses in the campus space:

"The AUN policy is guided by principles on sexual harassment which are articulated and agreed by the Association of the American Universities (AAU)”.

She also stressed the theme of confidentiality. She said that information shared by an individual with the university authorities as confidential could not be revealed to anyone without the express permission of the person who provided that information.

"At AUN, we hold every student, faculty, staff, administrator or any other person found in violation of the policy accountable for such violations." Later, Professor Erebi was joined by Assistant Professor David Adetoro, also of the AUN SoL, to respond to the many questions from students and others in attendance.

The Student Government Association (SGA) played a crucial role in designing the Whistleblowing Platform, and the SGA President, Mr. Daniel Omuabor, praised the outcome.

"We had to keep fast-forwarding the event because we wanted to get it right." He also expressed his joy at the success of the event.

"The event went better than I could imagine. I was first hesitant, worrying that students might not want to talk about this subject matter. The first step is awareness, second is action, and we were able to do both tonight with the launch of the platform and creating awareness for the safeguarding policies".

The Registrar and Vice President for Administration, Dr. Andrew Okolie, thanked President Ensign for her passion and unrelenting commitment against any form of corruption, harassment, or bullying on campus, and members of the committee for steering the whistleblowing project to its logical conclusion. 

Dr. Okolie assured everyone that the University management has the will to ensure uncompromised implementation of policies that safeguard the community.

Reported by Bitwul Dashe