UTech Cares: Genesis to Revelation

The diversity deficit at the University of Technology U(Tech), Jamaica (Ja) was revealed to the public when an alleged gay student was beaten on the Papine campus of the University of Technology, Jamaica on November 1, 2012. This incident sparked mob violence as students registered their animosity to same-sex behaviours. There were mixed reactions from a variety of groups and individuals both locally and internationally. For its part, the University’s Administration condemned the violence. Consensus was reached that a concerted, integrated and systematic response was needed to expand the boundaries of respect and tolerance within the UTech, Ja community.

In developing an appropriate intervention, data were gathered from eight (8) focus groups of 46 persons with representation from diverse sections of the University. Seventy percent (70%) of the participants were students including homosexuals. This data helped to frame a multi-level intervention that focused on improving attitudes, integrating core values and building awareness. The project achieved several important outputs including students’ newspaper articles publication of a compendium of students’ poetry, debates, a UTech Cares University Song, a University Policy on diversity, workshops, signage and seminars. Findings and reports were generated for internal and external audiences.

The theoretical framework for UTech Cares was guided primarily by Roger’s Diffusion of Innovation (DOI)

This paper describes the development of this seminal indigenous behaviour change communication response, called UTech Cares, developed and executed by a team at UTech, Jamaica, to address a diversity deficit. It characterizes the findings and shares the sustained positive impact of the experience and response on the University community.(DOI)

Key words: Behavior change intervention, University of Technology, Jamaica, diversity deficit, Roger’s DOI, seminal indigenous behavior change response, same –sex behavior, respect and tolerance.

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