Editors Note: The opinions contained in this post reflect those of the authors and not the official position of United Words.
In an effort to consolidate the outpouring of support for Julie and her family, we have created a website that will manage the process:
www.supportjmw.tk (short for Support Julie, Marj and Willow)
There are now four petitions:
(1) UWC students, faculty and alumni
(2) Friends and associates of the UWC movement
(3) Parents of UWC students
(4) Local Hong Kong students
If you have already signed the one for UWC students, faculty and alumni, please kindly refrain from resigning; your signature has already been recorded.
If you believe your parents would be willing to sign the petition, please forward this to both of them. We understand that this may be a complicated issue for some families, and we trust that you will be able to make the best decision.
In addition, please send it to your co-years at all UWCs and ask them to spread it among their colleges and their parents. We have received only about 50 signatures from each other UWC, which leaves a lot of potential for growth.
Please also forward this to your National Committees, and other friends and associates of the UWC movement.
A group of concerned students from Li Po Chun
For more information, we invite you to visit the following sites:
Petition for UWC Students, Staff and Alumni (from http://www.supportjmw.tk/)
Dear Li Po Chun United World College Board of Directors,
We, the students, staff and alumni of United World Colleges write to express our concern regarding the discrimination against teachers and their families at Li Po Chun. In particular, we strongly object to the decision to deny Julie Harris’ family recognition and equal access to benefits such as health care, tuition, and flights subsidies.
Recently, an LPC Geography teacher, Julie Harris, has been refused registration of her and her partner’s six month old daughter, Willow, as a dependant of the college. This means that Willow will not receive any of the benefits other teacher’s children currently receive, including private medical insurance, subsidies for flights and education, and the recognition pertaining to flat assignment. We demand that you reconsider this decision and amend your policies in order to accurately reflect the values of your students, alumni, staff, and the United World Colleges.
Julie Harris has been an outstanding teacher, mentor, and role model for every LPC student that she has taught, tutored, or led in extracurricular activities. We view it as your obligation to support the teachers that give LPCUWC its excellent academic reputation and who work extremely hard to carry out the UWC mission statement. LPC’s failing to provide all families with equal rights and benefits is insulting and discriminatory. This issue is particularly pressing given Li Po Chun’s status as a United World College. As a part of the UWC movement, we consider it your duty to uphold the principles of equality and mutual respect in your policies, hiring choices, and decisions. This decision represents a troubling neglect of this responsibility.
As you know, many of us are supporting Julie’s family by contacting our National Committees and home countries about the issue. Please have no doubt that we will continue to support her in any way possible. We know that there is a possibility of legal action, but we very much hope you will make the choice to settle this internally by eliminating the discriminatory policy.
We know that organisations in Hong Kong make their own policies regarding the benefits and rights of employees with same sex partners. The choice to not extend benefits to Willow Harris is one made by the board and the board alone. We hope you will reconsider this choice as soon as possible.
Thank you for your time and consideration. We hope to hear from you soon.
Concerned but hopeful,