Wits will be implementing “systemic holisitic intervention programmes” in residences next semester after students from Men’s Res sang “I smell pussy” at a rugby match.
The Raiders had already received criticism last month for posting sexist tweets about women visiting the residence.
The Gender Equity Office (GEO), Wits Transformation Office, and Res Life held a closed-door meeting with the Men’s Residence House Committee (HC) on Monday afternoon.
“At first the guys told us that the song was a long standing tradition of the house mascot, Zoro the cat, but after declining to sing us the song the HC acknowledged that it can be interpreted as offensive,” said the GEO director, Jackie Dugard.
However, in an e-mail interview with Wits Vuvuzela the house committee chairperson, Rodney Motjamela, denied knowing the history of the song.
“I do not have knowledge of the history of the song,” he said.
Dugard said the problem of sexism at the residence started at the institution and not individuals, who will not be disciplined for the singing the allegedly sexist song.
“This involves a systemic issue where groups are reproducing these offensive traditions. Holding individuals responsible is not the best way to ensure the problem doesn’t continue,” said Dugard.
Motjamela said that the house committee was “most satisfied with the outcome of the meeting” and that they will discuss the song with the rest of the house.
“[W]e categorically and unequivocally condemn these deeply saddening acts of discrimination. This is the stance and belief of the entire Men’s Res House,” said Motjamela.
The parties involved in the meeting have aligned to make sure that the problem doesn’t reproduce, according to Dugard.
“We need to change the way people think about gender and get them to find sexism unacceptable. Leaders of Wits need to move from reactive interventions to comprehensive reactions for change to work.”