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  • Stellenbosch postpones exams as students march against racism, GBV

    Stellenbosch postpones exams as students march against racism, GBV

    Hundreds of Stellenbosch University students ended a tumultuous week with an amalgamated march against systemic problems at the tertiary institution on Friday, 20 May.

    ‘UNPRECEDENTED’ STELLENBOSCH MOBILISATION

    Stellenbosch University has been rocked by two incidents of alleged racism over the last week and a male student accused of raping a fellow woman student was granted R1000 bail by the local Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.

    Students have made their voices heard since the urination incident – where Theuns du Toit was filmed allegedly urinating on Babalo Ndwanya’s desk and belongings, in the Huis Marais residence, in the early hours of Sunday.

    READ:

    http://www.thesouthafrican.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/DSF1565-2048x1365.jpg
    Photo: Storm Simpson / The South African.

    Du Toit has since been suspended, accused of racism, and sparked national outrage. Students want him expelled from the university.

    Stellenbosch University said before du Toit can be expelled – if it comes to that – its internal disciplinary measures must run their course. The matter is also under police investigation.

    In the wake of the urination incident, individual protests have taken place on campus. On Thursday, students handed a memorandum of demands to Vice-chancellor Wim de Villiers, which demanded an inquiry into racism at the institution, among other things.

    Friday’s ‘mobilisation’ – as it was diplomatically called – was unique as it was “an amalgamation of previous planned demonstrations by various student societies.”

    The Stellenbosch University Students Representative Council (SRC) said the decision to unify the protests was made at an unprecedented meeting between all student leadership structures.

    INTERSECTIONAL PROTEST

    The Stellenbosch SRC said the demonstration would broaden its scope and focus on more than racism – taking an intersectional approach to “focus on all that has been happening on campus.”

    Issues highlighted include racism, gender-based violence, toxic masculinity and “system inequalities.”

    Maties marched down Victoria Street from the Irene residence to the Rooiplein at the heart of campus, where student leadership addressed them. Members of the gathered crowd were also afforded an opportunity to speak and share their lived experience.

    Speakers touched on institutionalised racism, the lived experience of people of colour at the university, lack of transformation and the university’s lack of delivery on historic demands related to GBV.

    http://www.thesouthafrican.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/DSF1585-2048x1365.jpg
    Photo: Storm Simpson / The South African.

    Evidently, there is a division in student leadership and some people are unsatisfied with their elected campus leaders – every so often when leadership was praised it would be met with heckles and murmurs from the crowd.

     “For a very long time, student leaders have failed the students of this institution. To market what we’re doing here today, we made it a very important point to speak of the unprecedented sit-down we had last night as student leaders…” said SRC Chairperson, Viwe Kobokana.

    Kobokana said for once the university’s student leadership, including political organisations, faculties, house committees and more, got together and decided that enough was enough.

    “I really do want to remind everyone that we are at that point now where we are moving together in unison, in one voice.

    “I think we made it very clear that any student leader who doesn’t stick to that and any student leader who works outside of the mandates that will be given by the students is not a student leader in this institution…” said Kobokana.

    STELLENBOSCH EXAMS POSTPONED

    At the end of proceedings, Kobokana announced that university management confirmed that the upcoming exams would be postponed for one week – in light of the “triggering” events that have unfolded at the campus recently. All due dates for assignments and tests are subject to the same postponement.

    Professor Deresh Ramjugernath, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching, later confirmed that exams would now start on 30 May.

    http://www.thesouthafrican.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/DSF1672-2048x1365.jpg
    Photo: Storm Simpson / The South African.

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    Khamisi
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