Western encourages all to take The Pledge

Western is asking members of the university community to join friends and colleagues across London on Monday, Nov. 12 in taking The Pledge to End Bullying, a Thames Valley District School Board-led initiative.

“I applaud the school board’s leadership in promoting a healthy, safe and respectful community where bullies are simply no longer tolerated,” said Amit Chakma, Western president. “Staying silent and looking the other way when inappropriate behaviour happens is unacceptable, and I encourage all members of our campus to think about the difference they can make at home, at work and in the classroom by committing to The Pledge to End Bullying.”

As part of Western’s commitment to creating and supporting a healthy, safe and respectful working and learning environment, Chakma encouraged Western students, staff, faculty and alumni to go online on Monday, Nov. 12 to thepledgetoendbullying.ca, click on London and then take The Pledge.

Ontario’s Ministry of Education defines bullying as repeated, persistent and aggressive behaviour directed at an individual or individuals, intended to cause (or should be known to cause) fear and distress and/or harm to another person’s body, feelings, self-esteem or reputation. Bullying occurs in a context where there is a real or perceived power imbalance and can be physical, verbal, social or electronic (cyberbullying).

“Bullying robs people of their enjoyment in life and impacts their productivity enormously; it undermines their self-confidence,” said Gitta Kulczycki, Western’s vice-president (resources and operations). “This is true whether the people being bullied are students or adults pursuing their way in the working world.

“No one has the right to impair the dignity and self-worth of another human being.”

Kulczycki has seen the impact of bullying – both in the workplace and as a mom.

“I have seen first-hand the impact it has had,” she said. “I have no tolerance for it. Period.”

In June 2010, Bill Tucker, Thames Valley District School Board director of education, launched the Director’s Community Task Force on Anti-Bullying to gather ideas to combat bullying behavior in the community. Fifteen agencies throughout Thames Valley spent a year sharing and learning from each other. Released in June 2011, the task force’s Report to the Community highlighted how each organization will address the issue of bullying in the future.

Out of that initiative came The Pledge, a community-wide initiative that seeks to raise the public consciousness about bullying – in schools, at work and at home. Last year, more than 74,000 people declared their commitment to end bullying by taking The Pledge.

“I believe that every individual has the right to live, work and participate in an inclusive community,” said Leslie Gloor Duncan, PMA president and Student Success Centre team coordinator for transition, leadership and enrichment programs. “Individuals must be able to live authentic lives without fear of harassment or bullying. The Pledge is an important tool to help raise awareness and allow our community to engage in important conversations.

“We can all help to build a better community by taking a stand against bullying.”

Adam Fearnall agreed. “Bullying is a concern for all demographics and too many people are scarred by its impacts,” said the University Students’ Council president. “Perpetrators and victims must believe that there is a support network of people available that can help to break the cycle of bullying. We all have a responsibility to ensure that bullying does not impact our schools, workplaces and relationships.

“Signing the pledge allows all of us at Western to unite behind a shared vision for acceptance and inclusivity.”

The Pledge reads: “I believe that everybody has the right to live in a community where they feel safe, included, valued and accepted regardless of differences. I pledge to be respectful of others and stand up against bullying whenever and wherever I see it.”