[lg policy] South Africa: Stellenbosch University threatens disciplinary action against transformation group

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Mon May 11 15:26:39 UTC 2015

Stellenbosch University threatens disciplinary action against
transformation group
2015-05-10 17:00
Stellenbosch University

    ‘Jou swart moer van die wit boer’: Stellies lecturer faces racism charge
    Open Stellenbosch and Why It's Not Working
    Stellenbosch prof suspended after alleged racist SMS

A pressure group promoting transformation at the University of Stellenbosch
claims its members have been threatened with disciplinary action if they go
ahead with planned mass meetings to focus on the university’s language

City Press last week reported that Sikhulekile Duma – a sociology student
and member of activist group Open Stellenbosch – received a racist SMS from
a lecturer at the university. The SMS read: “Jou swart moer van die wit
boer” (you black bastard from the white farmer).

The SMS was traced back to physics lecturer Anton Stander, who has since
been suspended.

This week, Kylie Thomas, also a member of Open Stellenbosch and a lecturer
at the university’s English department, told City Press the university had
threatened to discipline individual members if the group organised any mass

“Two members of the Open Stellenbosch collective received letters
threatening us with disciplinary action if we went ahead and held the first
meeting to focus on language and exclusion at the Rooiplein – a central
gathering place in the middle of the campus – and if we held further
meetings in the future.

“I was one of the people who received this letter.

“The letter I received was from the director of strategic initiatives and
human resources, Tobie de Coning, and it was copied to the vice-chancellor
and others in senior management. It was not sent to the dean of my faculty.”

De Coning said members of Open Stellenbosch did not follow university
procedure regarding mass gatherings.

“The university would be failing in its duty not to indicate to staff
members that they run the risk of disciplinary action should they continue
to advise students to ignore the correct procedures.”

Tensions between the group and the university also heightened this week in
the student parliament, when one of the vice-rectors dismissed the concerns
of mainly black students about the language issue.

In a recorded clip, the vice-rector for learning and teaching, Arnold
Schoonwinkel, can be heard asking students whether “coming to Stellenbosch,
did you really think you wouldn’t hear Afrikaans?”

The session descended into chaos when members of Open Stellenbosch called
for him to retract his statement.

Efforts to contact Schoonwinkel were in vain.


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