In recent weeks, the media has been filled with news of several high-profile cases of alleged sexual violence, sexual harassment, and/or sexual misconduct in various fields of academia. The most recent of these cases has directly touched our own palaeosciences community.

We are saddened by the need to reemphasize the importance of appropriate conduct both as academics and as human beings, but take this opportunity to reiterate the Centre of Excellence in Palaeosciences’ stance of zero-tolerance towards sexual misconduct (encompassing gender discrimination, sexism, sexual harassment and rape) and discrimination (based on race, sexual orientation, or disability) in any of its forms. Discriminatory or gender-based misconduct is unlawful, undermines the integrity of employment and educational relationships and causes serious harm to the productivity, efficiency and stability of our Centre. We expect the highest level of professionalism and ethical conduct, not only from our faculty members, but from our students, staff, visiting researchers, and all other members of our community. The Centre of Excellence in Palaeosciences reaffirms our commitment to providing a safe and welcoming environment in which to study and conduct research.

It is our goal that we form and maintain a respectful, safe community. Accordingly, we encourage anyone who witnesses inappropriate behaviour to report it before it can become pervasive. These are serious offences and will not be tolerated. Such allegations are taken very seriously, but will be investigated impartially and confidentially to the extent possible. Such misconduct constitutes a serious disciplinary offence at the University of the Witwatersrand, and the Centre will not hesitate to act.

We urge each of you to reacquaint yourself with the University of the Witwatersrand gender-based misconduct and anti-discrimination policies (see below for quick links).  We recognize that this is a sensitive issue; if you like to discuss concerns in a safe and supportive environment, you may bring them to the Gender Equity Office (contact details below). They have trained social workers who are available to talk.

For more information about what constitutes gender-based misconduct (encompassing gender discrimination/sexism, sexual harassment and rape), please refer to:

To download click on:

Anti-discrimination policy

Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault and Rape Policy and Procedures

For any queries, or if you would like to speak to someone confidentially regarding a complaint or simply to talk, please contact:

Gender Equity Office (GEO)

20th floor, University Corner

Tel: 011 7179790

Email: maria.wanyane@wits.ac.za; charlene.beukes@wits.ac.za