RMIT Vietnam’s commitment to providing its staff and students with a respectful, safe place to study and work was reinforced through a recent campaign by the University’s Safer Community Unit.
In collaboration with a group of Bachelor of Communication (Professional Communication) students at the University’s Saigon South campus and the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) club at Hanoi campus, the Safer Community Unit conducted a campaign titled SHhhh – When Silence Hurts to raise awareness of topics that many people consider uncomfortable or unsafe talking about.
Senior Manager of RMIT Vietnam’s Student Advice – Wellbeing and Counselling Services Ela Partoredjo said that the Safer Community Unit provides support and options to students who are concerned about threatening or unwanted behaviour, even if it happens off-campus.
“We are committed to creating an environment where students can safely seek support, express their concerns and be whomever they want without worrying about being discriminated against, violated, or rejected,” Ms Partoredjo said.
“One of the main focus points of Safer Community is sexual harm, and through the recent campaign we aim to highlight the role of Safer Community as a checkpoint to start conversations in a safe environment.”
The campaign included online and offline activities at both campuses.
The six-week initiative was led by team T.A.N.G.O. consisting of five students working on an Interdisciplinary Communication Project (ICP), an elective in the Professional Communication program.
Explaining the title of the campaign, T.A.N.G.O. team leader Bui Phuong Anh shared: “‘SHhhh’ is the sound you make to ask for silence, while SH also stands for Sexual Harassment.”
“We believe that even if you haven’t broken the silence, there is still sexual harassment, and it’s time to raise our voices against such unwanted behaviour for a safer community.”
After conducting online and offline activities, including Facebook posts and tear-off posters, the campaign wrapped up with a four-day exhibition which attracted more than 150 visitors. The campaign received positive responses from both staff and students.
“The exhibition is the final stage of our project, with the key aim of encouraging visitors to speak up against sexual harassment,” Phuong Anh said.
The other team members, including Duong Vinh Hoi, Tran Hoang Bao Chau, Nguyen Ngoc Thoai Nghi and To Ngoc Minh Thy, appreciated the chance to contribute to the campaign while growing professionally.
At Hanoi campus, SIFE organised a number of activities to complement the exhibition including collaborative online activities, interactive booths, and a “blind” talk show where audience members were able to share opinions in a dark hall without being identified.
On behalf of the 31 members involved in the campaign, SIFE’s Head of Research and Development Trinh Tran Phuong Uyen said she was proud to play a part in the project.
“Many people who engaged in our online and offline activities gave us lots of positive feedback,” Uyen said.
“We even received a message from a sexual harassment victim who said that she really appreciated what we have done after visiting the exhibition.”
Uyen went on: “Even though we went through lots of difficulties during the process, it gave us many valuable lessons and experiences, as well as important knowledge about sexual harassment, along with the soft skills of working as a team and managing an event.”
“After the project, our team was closer and worked more professionally.”
Looking ahead, Ms Partoredjo shared: “Our next step is to encourage students to challenge unacceptable behaviour and help them feel empowered to disclose or report incidents while knowing that they will be fully heard and supported.”
Story: Ha Hoang