October 19 will be a historic day at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies as hundreds of students cross the stage to collect their scrolls.
At that graduation ceremony, the campus will bid farewell to its first transgender student.
Dadrina Emmanuel, who entered the institution in 2016, is graduating with an Upper Second Class degree in Social Work.
The student received special mention from Principal, Professor Eudine Barriteau at Friday evening’s matriculation ceremony as an example of the inclusive environment at the campus.
“She (Dadrina) thanked the campus for recognizing her humanity and stated she was made to feel welcome, especially by students and some key staff members,” the principal recounted of a conversation she had with the student.
“We stated then and we are reinforcing it again, being different must not be read as an invitation for any form of abuse. Once you meet our matriculation requirements, there is a place for you at The UWI, Cave Hill.”
The principal stressed that the campus does not tolerate sexual, religious or any form of discrimination or sexual harassment of, or by students or staff.
This policy, she stressed, also applies to persons with learning or physical disabilities.
The cohort of incoming students includes six who are visually impaired.
The principal’s address was titled, The Cave Hill Campus: The Academic Epicentre of Higher Education in the Eastern Caribbean, which she used to tout the university’s high placement on the Times Higher Education Survey and its Smart Campus initiative.
She said the campus is constantly renewing its curriculum, while focusing on addressing real life issues, such as poor academic performance, deviance and forms of disruptive behavior in schools.
To this effect, Professor Barriteau said, “The School of Education will introduce a Unit for Clinical Assessment that will identify psychological and educational issues that may be impeding students’ progress.”
“Identifying and tackling learning challenges early will enable the Unit to help students enhance their learning and experience greater academic and social success. The School will work with Ministries of Education and colleges nationally and regionally to create a referral system for students with special needs.” (CW)