ACTION against university sexual harassers can only be taken when victims report the cases to authorities, warns the Careers Counselling and Development Unit’s (CCDU) sexual harassment advisor, Maria Wanyane.
“You can stop this,” Wanyane said. “You have the right. Work together with CCDU. Come and report it.”
While the university has a detailed sexual harassment policy and structure to deal with these cases of harassment by both staff and students, unless the case is reported to them, their hands are tied. “The challenge is that, if people don’t come forward, there’s not much we can do,” said Wanyane.
The university’s policy defines sexual harassment as “any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.”
After an article about a lecturer sexually harassing students in the Wits Vuvuzela late last year, accusations against two other lecturers have been brought to paper’s attention. However, because the women being harassed themselves do not want to report the situation, steps cannot be taken against these lecturers.
Witnesses of sexual harassment are also unable to press charges against perpetrators.
“They can come here, and they can say: ‘I know this particular person has been harassing students’ and that will be noted,” said Wanyane.
The CCDU can then “go to that faculty to create awareness around sexual harassment.”
But an investigation can only be launched once a victim steps forward.
Even if students do not want to lay a formal complaint against their harassers, they can still go to the CCDU for guidance and counselling.
“Ultimately, it’s the student’s decision,” said Wanyane. “However, there are times when we do emphasise that an investigation has to be done around a particular act, for example, if someone has been raped on campus.”
The university will then investigate the matter, so as not to put other students at risk.
In cases where harassment is not severe, students can opt for a mediated discussion between themselves and the harasser, said Wanyane.
“Sometimes these people don’t interpret these things as sexual harassment,” explained Wanyane. “They think, ‘Ag, my behaviour is normal.’ It’s only when someone else says that what they are doing is actually sexual harassment that they realise.”
According to Wanyane, sexual harassment is a widespread problem in South Africa.
“It is a huge problem in society. So whatever is happening at Wits University, it’s not an isolated incident, it is a reflection of what’s happening out there in the community.”
“WELCOME to my crib,” Jason Botha jokes as he ushers Wits Vuvuzela into his res room in West Campus Village.
But this room seems to be missing the characteristic lumpy bed, greying walls and battered furniture of your typical residence room.
Botha’s pimped out room in West Campus Village. Photo: Jason Botha
Botha’s room looks brand new – although he didn’t pay the extra R15 000 required to get a renovated room.
The freshly painted walls are a crisp white. Shelves line the walls, housing files, books and a radio. The standard res bed has been removed, and in its place is a metal loft bed, with a couch tucked snugly underneath. Pictures of planes and shuttles have been stuck up on the walls, and an inflatable rocket hangs from the ceiling – no one could doubt Botha is a Master’s student in aeronautical engineering.
The “renovations” and hiring a paint and décor specialist, cost Botha a hefty R3 000, but he’s adamant this was better than paying for one of the residence’s newer room.
Have you done something special with your res room? Share it with Wits Vuvuzela! Email firstname.lastname@example.org, write on Wits Vuvuzela’s Facebook wall, or tweet @witsvuvuzela. The best rooms will feature in the paper.
Botha relaxes on the couch tucked away underneath his loft bed. Photo: Lebogang Ndlakomo
BOY MEETS GIRL: Former Wits students Eduan van Jaarsveldt and Zethu Dlomo play Fanie and Dinky, who fall in love despite their vastly different backgrounds. Photo: provided
TWO FORMER Wits drama students are set to appear opposite each other in the local film, Fanie Fourie’s Lobola, due out in cinemas today.
The film, which won the Audience Choice Award at the second annual Jozi Film Festival, is a boy-meets-girl story with a twist.
Eduan van Jaarsveldt, who graduated from Wits in 2004 with a BA in Dramatic Arts, plays lovable Fanie Fourie. Fanie still lives with his mother, designs custom cars that look like African animals.
LOVESTRUCK: Eduan van Jaarsveldt plays unlucky-in-love Fanie Fourie, who designs custom cars that look like animals. Photo: provided
Zethu Dlomo, who earned her BA Dramatic Arts degree at Wits in 2011, plays the enigmatic aspiring entrepreneur, Dinky Magubane, who is tired of her father badgering her to get married.
WALKING ON SUNSHINE: Zethu Dlomo plays spunky Dinky Magubane, who dreams of owning her own business. Photo: provided
Their paths cross at Fanie brother Sarel’s bachelor party, where Fanie is dared to ask Dinky to Sarel’s (played by Chris Chameleon) wedding. Dinky agrees, on the condition that Fanie pretends to be her boyfriend in front of her father.
Despite their vastly different Afrikaans and Zulu backgrounds, the pair fall in love and hilarity ensues.
Working opposite another ex-Witsie was something of a novelty for Van Jaarsveldt and Dlomo.
“It was great working with Zethu,” Van Jaarsveldt told Wits Vuvuzela. “She’s theatre trained so she has a great work ethic, and she’s very disciplined. With people like that, you know you’re both pulling your weight.”
“He went to Wits years before I did,” said Dlomo. “So we experienced the same degree in different ways. Got taught by different people, majored in different subjects. But it was cool to know that we both got the same degree.”
“It is so important for aspiring actors to get an education in the field of performance,” she added. “It really does make a noticeable difference when working professionally.”
The film, while primarily a comedy, touches on the serious issues of racism and prejudice, and whether or not interracial relationships are possible in modern South Africa.
Van Jaarsveld thinks that having an interracial relationship in South Africa is definitely possible, but it certainly isn’t easy. “The prejudice is still there, but it’s a global problem,” he told Wits Vuvuzela.
KINDRED SPIRITS: An Afrikaams boy from middle-class Pretoria and a Zulu girl from Brazzaville? Ex-Witisie explore love that transcend social prejudices. Photo: provided
Dlomo is adamant Fanie Fourie’s Lobola is not a film about race and politics. “It’s about love. It’s about culture and the differences we have in our cultures, but also the similarities. It’s about seeing and acknowledging the differences and appreciating them. It’s about normal people with dreams and ambitions,” she said.
NTANDO GETS HER CROWN: Wits beauty Ntando Kunene took home the Miss Mamelodi Sundowns crown and R70 000 last weekend. This after she lost out in the Miss Earth South Africa finals in August. Photo: Ntando Kunene
Wits’ own Ntandoyenkosi Kunene may have missed out on a placing in the Miss Earth South Africa last month, but she has achieved success in a pageant closer to home.
Kunene was crowned Miss Mamelodi Sundowns Gauteng on Saturday, and walked away with R70 000. The third year education student went for her first audition last Thursday, which took place at the Southern Sun Pretoria.
“It was a long day but also very exciting,” said Kunene. “We were told that the ladies that make it through will be contacted between 7 and 8pm on Friday. 7pm passed and 8pm passed … I only got the call at 9.30pm, which I was ecstatic about.”
“What they were looking for, exactly, on the day, I’m not sure. But whatever it is I’m honoured to say they found that in me.”
Kunene will now participate in the national competition, in which judges will choose the overall winner. The national Miss Mamelodi Sundowns will receive R200 000 and a Honda CRZ.
Kunene, however, is happy with her R70 000. “Wow what do I do with R70 000? That is a lot of money for me. I will firstly spoil my parents and siblings just to thank them for the endless support they have been showing me, [I will be] saving some and giving some money to a charity in my home town. And not forget myself!”
Of her Miss Earth experience, Kunene said she was disappointed not to have been placed. “With things like this, I believe that it is written in the stars who wins and on that day. My name was not amongst those stars.”
Katlego* perches on a wall outside the Cullen Library, an old Nokia in her hand. She shields the screen against the sun, so that the message is visible.
“Hope you will turn me into your personal slave,” one message reads. “Make me serve you and then reward me!”
“Whatever we might agree would be totally secret and safe with no strings attached,” says another. These messages are from Katlego’s lecturer.
“I remember the first time he sent me an SMS. He said something very explicit,” Katlego says.
She called the number back twice, not knowing who it was. There was no answer. “That’s when he sent an SMS, he was like, ‘Don’t call me, let’s just chat via SMS.’”
Katlego had never given him her number, and was initially surprised that he had managed to get hold of it. “But then I realised that he’s a lecturer. He can just look up my name and get my number.”
Katlego says she never considered reporting him. “It was so overwhelming; I thought, ‘OK, I’m just going to brush it off.’ I was a first year student, I didn’t want to jeopardise anything, didn’t want to get into trouble for getting a lecturer into trouble.
“I brushed him off. I told him look, you need to stop. He just said, ‘You can’t handle me, you can’t handle my attention’. But I told him that I was losing all respect for him as my lecturer. And I stopped replying to his SMSes.
“A man his age, it was really disturbing. Have you seen him on campus? He walks with his head down. He knows, he knows he’s surrounded by victims.”
Samantha* had a similar experience in her first year, when the same lecturer invited her to be his friend on Facebook. “He invited a couple of us black females on Facebook, including myself, lots of my friends. He sent one of my friends something really, really, really nasty. There are so many girls that I know. Actually more than six.
“If you ask any black girl who did [the subject] at some stage, they’ll tell you. He approaches everyone,” says Samantha.
Wanting to expose the lecturer, Samantha spoke to her friends, asking them to come forward. But they refused. “My other friend sat me down and said, ‘You don’t want to be that girl. You don’t want to be that girl that exposes the lecturer. You don’t want that reputation.’”
Samantha was unwilling to let Wits Vuvuzela see the messages the lecturer had sent her on Facebook, although she had kept them.
“He’d remember. He’d probably check all the girls he inboxed, and then he’d know. I want to do honours [in the department], so I’m not going to do that.”
However, Samantha is quick to praise the professor. “He’s such a good lecturer, honestly. He’s making changes in the department, good changes.”
Despite this, she admits that his advances on the young women that he lectures are “bad”.
“For me, it’s no big deal because nothing happened, I didn’t entertain it. But what if I was failing, what if I was poor? What does it mean for those girls?”
Yet another student, Ayanda*, has also been approached by the Wits lecturer. In her case, it was via Yahoo Chat. Ayanda claims that she wasn’t the only student approached by the lecturer, and she has friends who had a similar experience.
“He asks how you are and if you are interested in him. If not, he doesn’t mind. He doesn’t want a relationship, just sex. He has a relationship already.
“At first it was just creepy then it became sad. I honestly thought it was a joke, but jokes don’t continue for months.”
In response to Wits Vuvuzela, the lecturer in question has denied the allegations and said: “There are appropriate channels within the university for dealing with cases of sexual discrimination and harassment”.
A complaint can be laid with one of the counsellors at the Careers Development Unit (CCDU), after which “the process will be driven/guided by the needs and wishes of the complainant”, according to the unit’s sexual harassment policy.
The CCDU’s definition of sexual harassment is “any form of unwanted sexual advance, [which] can include physical, verbal or non-verbal behaviour”.
The student laying the complaint can choose not to pursue any process involving the alleged harasser, to get counselling, follow a process of mediation, or lay a formal internal complaint, resulting in a formal grievance and/or disciplinary process.
Can lecturers date their students?
Contrary to popular belief, relationships between lecturers and students are not explicitly forbidden.
The Wits human resources department has compiled a set of “guidelines” for lecturer-student relationships, which states:
“[F]or instance in the development of a romantic relationship, a staff member should consider carefully the possible consequences for him/herself and the student. Consensual romantic relationships with student members, while not expressly prohibited, can prove problematic.”
Wits Vuvuzela is investigating cases of sexual harassment that students have brought to our attention. If you have any information, please contact us at email@example.com.
Wits Vuvuzela will protect the identity of all its sources.
*Names have been changed.
Published in Wits Vuvuzela 25th edition, September 21 2012.
Management at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) shut down all seven campuses this week “for fear of the safety of students, staff and TUT property” following two weeks of student protest.
Students were evacuated from all the TUT residences on Tuesday, August 22.
This was after TUT closed Soshanguve, Pretoria and Ga-Rankuwa campuses and residences the previous week.
At a special executive management committee meeting on Monday, August 20, the university suspended all classes with immediate effect until further notice.
Students began protesting on Monday August 13 about the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and the condition of their residences.
Pretoria News reported that at the Pretoria campus, students barred the entrance, setting tyres alight and singing struggle songs. Protesters told the newspaper many students who were on a NSFAS waiting list had now been told they would not receive funding.
Students also bemoaned the quality of the catering services in the TUT residences, and SRC representatives handed over a memorandum demanding the immediate termination of all catering contracts.
Khanyisile Mnisi, a Public Management student at the Soshanguve Campus, told Wits Vuvuzela that she witnessed all but one of the protests.
“The protest going on my campus was not a violent one, just a group of fed up students who wanted to be heard by management.”
Mnisi was one of the students who was told to move out of her residence last week.
“All residents students received texts at 11 o’clock at night informing us that we need to evacuate the res by 7 am or else we will face serious charges. Sadly, by 5 am police vehicles where surrounding the campus.
“Soshanguve is made up of a majority of students who reside in rural areas, one can barely afford to pay fees, how are we now supposed to vacate in a matter of a few hours? Where do they think we are going to get the money from in such short notice? This is the attitude that stirred up the protests.”
Vice Chancellor and Principal Prof Nthabiseng Ogude, who was appointed at the beginning of August, has criticised the actions of the students.
“Students and external people, some of whom were intoxicated, stoned buildings and threw petrol bombs, causing extensive damage to property.”
The university said on Monday that management is “committed to addressing genuine concerns faced by students” however “some of these issues cannot be resolved overnight”.
“However, it should be noted that having legitimate concerns does not warrant unruly and violent behaviour and infringing on other people’s rights.”
Comments by TUT students on Twitter indicate that not all students share the protestors’ sentiments.
Tumi Kgasoe tweeted “I wonder what the TUT SRC have to say for themselves!” and Salamina Malete said, “When the TUT SRC strike for the 10 % of the students and inconvenience the rest of the 90% … My life is at a standstill because of this FUCKED UP school.”
Mnisi however, said that she agrees with protestors. “If I wasn’t so good looking, I would’ve been in front of all those people stoning that building,” she said.
While many may see the annual OppiKoppi festival as a student’s rite of passage, one’s first time in the alternate universe of dust, heat and music quite daunting. For the first-timers, Vuvuzela has put together a survival guide of OppiKoppi essentials.
The Wits academic staff union have pressed ahead with their planned strike today, after last-minute negotiations yesterday failed.
Members of the union, ASAWU, have gathered at the entrances to Wits main campus in small groups, holding signs that read “We love Wits, do you?” and “Stop imposing – negotiate.”
Member of ASAWU and Senior lecturer in the School of Mining and Engineering, Carl Beaumont, said,“Our aims for today are to get our message across to Wits University management, that staff have had enough. We’ve had enough of managerialism, we’ve had enough of imposed pay-rises and poor salaries. It’s something that’s been brewing for years, not something that’s just happened in 2012.”
David Dickinson, President of ASAWU (pictured above) said, “People have to stand up for their rights, and more importantly they have to stand up for the good of Wits University. We believe the management is running this university into the ground.”
Management announced a 7.25% increase for academic staff, but the Administration, Library and Technical Staff Association (ALTSA) and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) have demanded a 9% increase.
ALTSA and NEHAWU, as well as Academic Staff Association of Wits University (ASAWU), also made non-wage related demands in a memorandum to management.
The three unions demand:
– a 9% salary increase for support staff, to be paid at a higher scale at the 75th percentile of the tertiary education sector benchmark – decent salaries to be given before performance regulations were initiated; – a resolution of the dispute on shift allowances – an agreement on sliding scales to advance equity – the establishment of a childcare facility for Wits employees – an end to overselling of parking permits in non-designated parking areas; – an increase in individual research incentive
However, Wits vice-Chancellor and principal Prof Loyiso Nongxa says that meeting these demands are complicated, and formal investigations need to be concluded prior to reaching an agreement.
Nongxa said that Wits academics are missing the bigger picture in their fight for better pay and working conditions, in an article he wrote for Business Day last week.
A rally for staff is set to take place on the Library Lawns at 12:00.
During the Mxit era, I never really got the hang of SMS slang. Oh, I could throw in a ‘gtg’ and (to my shame) a ‘lol’ occasionally but often I would need to enlist the help of my younger sister to decode the chaos of consonants. But then, luckily for me, we all moved on to qwerty keyboards, predictive text and social media. Now that we no longer have to press the number 4 three times to get an ‘i’, and so on, one would think proper spelling and grammar would make a reappearance in popular culture.
But sadly, this SMS slang seems to have become rooted in some people’s psyche. As a self-professed ‘Grammar Nazi’ (for want of a more politically correct term), I find scrolling down my news feed painful. For some reason,‘s’ and ‘z’ are still interchangeable. The same with ‘your’ and ‘you’re’. Clearly, some people don’t understand that grammar is the difference between knowing your shit, and the knowing you’re shit. Also, certain numbers can apparently be used in place of words. For example ‘b4’ instead of ‘before’. What are you doing? This is English, not Bingo.
Thankfully, I’m not the only person who feels this way. Lynne Truss, author of Eats, Shoots and Leaves (see what she did there?) and an extremist even for a Grammar Nazi, has a zero-tolerance approach to poor use of the English language. For example, she believes that people who mix up ‘its’ and ‘it’s’ “deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave”. I suppose in Truss’s case, “Nazi” is probably a fairly accurate description.
While Truss may be a bit radical (I think being struck by lightning alone is a fair punishment), I do think the way you write or type is a fair indication of intelligence. Particularly for first-language English speakers. I reckon if you’re smart enough to be accepted to university, you should probably be able to differentiate between ‘there’, ‘their’ and ‘they’re’. Honestly, if you can’t do that, explain to me exactly how you plan on getting that medical degree?
And if looking smart isn’t reason enough to use correct grammar, I could argue that grammar saves lives. How, you ask? Consider this time-honoured Grammar Nazi mantra. “Let’s eat, grandpa” versus “Let’s eat grandpa” – think about it.
A third year education student has made it through to the finals of Miss Earth South Africa – and has “fallen in love” with the change she hopes to make in environmental issues.
Ntandoyenkosi Kunene entered the pageant when she heard about it from a friend. “And the weird thing is they were already closed for applications but we went to the casting anyway,” she said.
Kunene was selected for the next round and eventually became a finalist for Gauteng.
“When I saw the email that read ‘CONGRATULATIONS’, I didn’t even continue to read anything else – I gave the phone to my sister while running into my parents’ bedroom screaming,” said Kunene. “The noise woke up everyone else and we just danced around screaming. It was such a great moment.”
According to their website, Miss Earth South Africa aims to “empower young South African women with the knowledge and platform to create a sustainable difference in our plight to combat the destruction of our natural heritage.”
The event helps create awareness of our environment, wildlife and conservation in South Africa.
Although Kunene describes environmental issues as very close to her heart, she says knowing the facts is not essential for entry into the competition. “But you must be willing to learn. And you fall in love with the change you want to make.”
The Miss Earth contestants were expected to get involved in various charity and community projects while competing for the title. Kunene was involved in a variety of projects, including teaching Katlehong and Tembisa children about planting beans.
“It’s quite inspiring. Even though we can’t change the current situation that we’re in, we can influence how they [the children] see the future,” Kunene said.
“It’s life-changing for those kids. With Miss Earth we strive to do that. We strive to change lives, to empower. And we also strive to give awareness to the environmental problems that we are facing as a country.”
According to Kunene, it is the way she tackles challenges that sets her apart from the other finalists. “I’m not your every day ‘what you see is what you get’ [kind of girl] because in most cases after meeting people, [they] always say: ‘I wasn’t expecting that from you’.”
If Kunene wins the title, she wants to get involved in environmental projects in her home town of Piet Retief in Mpumalanga. She has already organised a tree-plating campaign in the town.
“I want to work with rural schools, to plant gardens, to plant trees. We want to give hope. If I could win Miss Earth, that would be my major priority.”
The final gala evening will be held at Montecasino on August 25.
In the sixth and final episode of the 'Confessions' series, we unpack weight and body shaming, as we dissect confession 2216 from UniversityConfessions.za. Here, we discuss and exchange advice that aims to tackle ways to deal with and heal from toxic parenting and harm to self-esteem. Listen to the We Should Be Writing podcast on […]