Dear Students,

By now you would have received two emails from the Otago Polytechnic Leadership Team about last Friday’s attacks in Christchurch and our response to them. As you return to campus for Block 2, we’re touching base again to let you know which services are available specifically for international students at our Auckland site. We’ve put a number of measures in place to make sure you are getting the support you need following the attacks and also to make sure you know how to connect with others and offer support yourself.

How to show your support for the Muslim community

 At lunchtime next Friday 29 March we will hold a Celebration of Diversity for all staff and students. We welcome students and staff to make food or crafts for the event. You can also give a performance if you like. Keep an eye on social media and the digital screens around campus for more information.

Our student ambassadors will be selling green ribbons at the Celebration of Diversity for a donation. Green is a prominent colour in the Muslim religion and people are being encouraged to wear a green ribbon around their wrist show their solidarity with the Muslim community. All money raised from the ribbon sales will go toward the family of four-year-old girl, Alen Alsati, and her father, Waseem, who both remain in hospital in Auckland following the attacks. Staff and students are encouraged to wear green, black or white, or the outfits of their own culture at next Friday’s event.

You can leave your messages of support for the Muslim community on the condolences flag on Level 8. You can also show your support by attending a Vigil at the Auckland Domain this evening. The Jummah Remembrance: Vigil for lives taken in Christchurch is being organised by Migrants Against Racism and Xenophobia. See the Facebook event here. You might like to also attend the protest against racism taking place in Aotea Square this Sunday. See the Facebook event here. Thousands of people are pledging to form human chains outside mosques today, as Muslims head inside to pray.

Where to get help

The Student Success Team on Level 8 is available to help you with any concerns relating to last Friday’s events. The Mental Health Foundation has also produced this resource about how to support one another after the attack. In addition to this you can call or text 1737 at any time for free support from a trained counsellor. A prayer room is available for your use on Level 2 in Room 207.

How to stay safe

If you are worried about walking to your car or public transport, you can come and have a chat to the Student Success Team, who can help arrange a buddy to walk with you. There are a number of personal alarm apps available for your smart phone. One of these is the Emergency SOS Safety Alert – Personal Alarm App which can help you quickly and simultaneously advise key people that you need urgent help.

We are currently looking into other ways of making you feel safe including having a security service patrol the campus each day. We are developing a lock down procedure for the campus in case of emergencies and this will be communicated to all students in the coming weeks. We ask you to take common safety precautions around campus such as not leaving bags unattended, and reporting any suspicious activity to staff. Always call 111 in an emergency.

Kind regards,

OPAIC Communications.

Image credit: Miriama Grace-Smith.