Despite the appointment of its first black vice chancellor, the University of the Free State (UFS) still gets slammed with allegations of racism.
In 2009 when Professor Jonathan Jansen was appointed as the first black vice chancellor of UFS, hopes were high that this could be the change the university needed to fight back against racist claims. All facts point to Jansen having made in-roads, despite the slamming he is now receiving from the student movement.
Luzuko Buku, representative of the South African Students Congress (SASCO) said: “What Jansen has done since his arrival in the University of Free State is not to transform the university from its notorious racist conditions on black students but he has been working very hard to protect and cover up racism by sweeping such cases under the carpet.”
Last week it was alleged that two white UFS students, Kobus Muller and Charl Blom, tried to drive over a group of black pedestrians, side-swiping Dumane “Muzi” Gwedu, a fifth year BCom student. Gwedu then followed the car until it came to a stop where he approached the two drivers. This resulted in a violent attack on Gwedu.[pullquote] “The accused called the victims “kaffirs” and then drove off”[/pullquote]
A News24 article reported that Jansen had doubts about whether the incident was indeed racist, even though the accused called the victims “kaffirs” and then drove off.
During his inaugural speech in 2009, Jansen chose to forgive four white UFS students who, in 2008, filmed a video humiliating and degrading black campus workers. In his speech, Jansen dropped the case against these students and said, “They are my students. I cannot deny them any more than I can deny my own children.”
The move was controversial with some terming it a brave gesture of reconciliation and others warning it sent the wrong message to racists. Since the incident, Jansen has been blamed for adopting too reconciliatory an approach.
Other incidents of alleged racism at UFS were reported in 2010 when a female student, Pinky Mokemane, was dragged next to a car driven by two white UFS students.[pullquote align=”right”]”Student accommodation for a ‘non-affirmative action’ female.”[/pullquote]
In January 2014, an advertisement appeared in a Bloemfontein newspaper, advertising student accommodation for a “non-affirmative action” female. The VC reacted by distancing himself and the university from the advert, which shows embedded racial profiling within the UFS community. He said: “The varsity does not oversee private accommodation and it makes it difficult to regulate the ridiculous requirements they have of some students.”
Another ongoing example of racial profiling at UFS is their residence segregation. It appears that there are still many residences which give white students preference. With only 20% of UFS students being accommodated at the institution’s residences it is hard enough finding a spot if you’re white, let alone black.
UFS has its form of a transformation office too, the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice, an institute made for research and discussion among specialists, international students and politicians.
The general student body apparently can go to the Human Rights desk. This desk was not available for three days. The co-ordinator, Breggie Hofman Wits Vuvuzela was informed, was out of town and the second in charge “had a crisis”. Students will just have to save those reports of racism for later.
If this Storify does not load automatically, please click here.
Martin Moshal addresses executives to be a part of the Moshal Scholarship Program at the Radisson Blu Hotel. Photo: Caro Malherbe
The Moshal Scholarship Program invests in individuals who could end up mopping floors if they are not given opportunities.
The program that started in 2010, by Martin Moshal, seeks out exceptional individuals who have the potential to succeed.
“Potential is being wasted because they are too busy mopping up floors instead of mopping up the country,” said Moshal, when he addressed a group of executives at a conference at the Radisson Blu on Friday.
Selina Thebede is a UJ Business Science student. She majored in finance, economics, accounting and information-systems and is now a graduate of the Moshal Scholarship Program.
Before she was awarded the scholarship she found herself being uncertain of where she would end up. She did not think tertiary education was even an option.
Thebede overcame a lot in her life and now gives back to society by being actively involved in charities and using what she has learnt to be an example to others.
Like Thebede, 400 other students from Israel and South Africa have been given the opportunity to be properly educated because of the Moshal Scholarship Program.
“The way scholar selections take place is rather unique. Not only do we take academics into account, we also look for students with dogged determination to better themselves and their communities,” said Kate Kuper, Moshal president.
“In Jadish, the word for luck is ‘muzzle’,” said Moshal. .
“Most people who are successful got to where they are because of luck. This program is aimed at giving students from disadvantaged backgrounds a bit of ‘muzzle’ by creating opportunities for success”, he said.
The conference was to create corporate partnerships with top businesses in the country that will give Moshal students the opportunity to build networks, receive mentoring, internship possibilities and financial support.
Professor Jonathan Jansen from the University of the Free State spoke about the “graduate of the future”. His body language grabbed the audience’s attention, as he knocked over a bottle of water from the table while flinging his arms around in explanation.
Jansen said: “The pool of well-trained graduates will be small.” Receiving education is just half of what is needed to be successful. The other half is practical training in the working world, something that one does not get from at university.
The program is offered to students at all main South African universities, including Wits.
The conference room was made up of representatives from companies such as Investec, IQ Business, The National Treasury and a few major South African banks. As well as university and oil and mining companies such as Sasol and Anglo American delegates, just to name a few.
Corporate partners will follow students throughout their studies as potential future employees.
Gareth Cliff is one of the directors and partners of One on One Productions. This company has joined the program to train students in additional skills such as presentation, etiquette, body language and general dispositions- practical skills which are often overlooked as being necessary to find a job.
Jansen said he believed the program is beneficial because the time students spend getting a degree, being educated and training in the working world all “come together in a beautiful way”.
Safety at University of Limpopo under scrutiny
A Star reporter showed up security on the University of Limpopo’s Turfloop campus on Friday May 11 by walking on to campus with a knife and a toy gun.
Moloko Moloto had a 36cm-long knife tied to his leg underneath his jeans, and a toy gun tucked in the back of his pants, and walked into campus unhindered.
Despite the fact that guns and knives are strictly prohibited on campus, Moloto was not searched. He claims that security guards “simply allowed strangers to walk in”.
Earlier this month, students allegedly killed campus thug Lekau Mamaboloon, and assaulted seven of his friends. Students assaulted the men as they reportedly attempted to rob the students. University management said the men were not students and had been on campus illegally.
Last month, a law student was stabbed to death just outside campus.
A shooting last year prompted the university to install metal detectors at the entrances to campus. However, they were removed a month later.
University spokesman Kgalema Mohuba said he did not know that the metal detectors had been removed, and blamed the external security company, Mafoko Security Services.
Mafoko Security Services declined comment.
UFS rector wants pass mark raised to 50%
University of the Free State rector Jonathan Jansen criticised the teaching standards in South Africa on May 10, saying pupils should be expected to receive 50% in order to pass.
Jansen was speaking at a meeting of Umalusi, the council that sets and supervises standards for general and further education and training.
He said universities could no longer accept the low standards set by the current education system. Post-apartheid education did not cater for the poor, rural child, he said, and many schools had untrained teachers and were exceptionally badly run.
Published in Vuvuzela print edition, 18 May 2102
Varsity Round-up 21 April 2012
Varsity Round-up 29 March 2012
Published in Wits Vuvuzela, 13th edition, 11 May 2012