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Student harassed abroad

accuses the Learning Abroad Center of not responding adequately to her requests for help. From the Daily:

When Rachel Jamison received a full scholarship to study in Tanzania for a year, she said University officials told her to expect intense sexual harassment.

An experienced world traveler, Jamison said she thought she knew what to expect.

But repeated rape attempts, catcalls and assaults were more than she could have anticipated.

What's more, Jamison said, is that the University's Learning Abroad Center did little to help her situation. She said the LAC failed to follow the University's sexual harassment policy and told Jamison she must repay the scholarship before she can graduate.

Jamison said she wants University officials and the LAC to issue a public apology, forgive the scholarship initially awarded to her and let her graduate this spring. She also said she wants the LAC to draft a different policy regarding sexual harassment.

"To my knowledge, they either don't have one, or they don't follow it," Jamison said.

Jamison, who returned to the United States last week for safety reasons, studied in Tanzania with the International Reciprocal Student Exchange Program. The program, which is run through the LAC, awards nine University students with a scholarship for the academic year in select countries. In her initial program application, Jamison asked to go to Tanzania.

The exchange program is run through the University of Dar es Salaam, in the East African country's largest city.

The LAC issued a statement regarding Jamison's case but couldn't comment

further for legal and student confidentiality reasons. For students studying abroad, the LAC follows the same University sexual harassment policy as students studying in the United States.

The student charges further:

"I believe they're unprepared, but I also believe once they realized their actions weren't helping me, they've taken steps more to cover up what they've done, rather than protect my own safety or help me in dealing with this," Jamison said.

Comments

Other Foreign Students Surprised by Sexual Harassment Allegations

March 27th, 2007 – Dar Es Salaam

After throwing a man, who allegedly sexual harassed her, into a glass shop front window in downtown Dar Es Salaam a few weeks ago, foreign exchange student Rachel Jamison left Tanzania for the United States having had enough.

On her return to the United States, Jamison wrote a 12-page single spaced report alleging that in a number of instances both on and off campus, police, security officers, students, staff, professors, and others that she came in contact with during a seven month study abroad at the University of Dar Es Salaam had sexually harassed her and in some cases even attempted assault. In her report, she says that a man withheld her registration for classes until she agreed to sleep with him, that a student stole a 30-page paper from her demanding sex for its return, and that a man undid her blouse on a crowded bus and fondled her. The report conveyed an extremely terrifying experience of studying abroad in Tanzania.

As an American student studying at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania for the last seven months, I was surprised to hear the allegations of sexual harassment. This especially because I had chosen Dar Es Salaam for its peace and safety as compared to other African countries. Having been at the University during the same period of time, my experience and the experience of other students I know has been mostly positive and we have observed the environment and Tanzanian people to be extremely friendly and welcoming.

Tanzanian people are said to be some of the friendliest people in the world and from my experience that has been true. Every time I walk to class or am walking in the city, people greet me as they pass. If we have met before, then they will stop to ask me about my studies and my home. The colorful surroundings are warm and comfortable. Kangas (dyed fabric) and fresh fruit crowd the shop fronts. Streets are bustling with people. On campus, students study together on the grass and play the latest “bongo flavor” music in the dorms. It is a fun and exciting place to be.

However, as an international student, it is very important to remember that Dar Es Salaam is a big city and that one must be cautious of the surroundings. Harassment does happen in Tanzania as it does in every part of the world. Being foreign and mostly Caucasian, international students do tend to get a lot of attention in the city. Street vendors trying to get your attention will often call to you using the term “mzungu” meaning white or European person or in some cases, men will call to you using the term “mchumba” meaning fiancée or girlfriend while confessing their love to you. These types of harassment are usually harmless and happen often in town but almost never on campus.

Studying abroad can be difficult and traumatic for many students. Usually it entails being more independent, meeting new people, and living in a country and culture much different then their own. The experience can be eye opening and exciting but also lonely and unfamiliar. In this context, one of the most important things can be having access to a network of other foreign students and daily assistance from an international office.

At the University of Dar Es Salaam, the International Cooperation, Links, and Projects Office known as the Links office is open daily to assist foreign students and other internationals and advise them on questions or problems. Mabel Kaaya, Senior Administrative Officer of Links office is one of the friendliest and most attentive people that I have met at the University and has handled the problems of international students year after year. These problems range from visas and roommates to thefts and incidents of assault. Any and all incidents relating to international students at the school are to be reported to this office.

There are approximately 22,000 students at the University of Dar Es Salaam in a given year, 190 of those are foreign students. The University understands that foreign students may be targets for theft and so puts them in dorms with more security and with roommates that are pre-screened. The University hosts a welcome week for international students with a security brief, introduction to Dar Es Salaam, and other talks. When it comes to safety, the University takes matters of assault and sexual harassment very seriously adhering to a strict anti-sexual harassment policy. In Rachel’s case, the University has appointed a committee to investigate the charges.

Unfortunate incidents happen in all parts of the world and are not unique to Tanzania. Many times these types of horror stories are the only ones that make it back to students interested in studying abroad, whether they are true or not. While these may leave a lasting impression, the actual experiences are few and far between. In truth, most would say that coming to Tanzania and studying at the University of Dar Es Salaam is the experience of a lifetime and that Tanzania is a welcoming country with some of the friendliest people, deepest culture, and is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I am one of them.

Jessica A. Glynn
Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship 2006-07
University of Dar Es Salaam
M.A. Development Studies
GlynnJA@gmail.com

No, no, no, Ms. Glynn. These incidences are not few and far between. I would like to ask readers to visit www.csfes.org to read the many cases of abuse, assault, and exchange agency neglect that occurs with high school and college foreign exchange students, both here and abroad. This is not an isolated incident and you should be ashamed of trying to dismiss what this young girl went through.