Academics say the effects of a struggling economy will trickle down to students.
African males suffer the most discrimination in higher education, the Gauteng Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said on Thursday.
The organisation claimed the share of African males in higher education had been stuck at 28 percent since 2000. The party said it planned on writing a report evaluating racial and gender imbalances in higher education institutions in Gauteng.
The EFF made this claim at a press briefing headlined by its candidate for premier, Dali Mpofu, in Braamfontein.
The EFF said that if it won election in Gauteng, it would immediately implement a 100-day plan that includes holding a “youth summit” made up of young people from across the province.
Mpofu said the EFF would launch “Youth Entrepreneur Centres” that would offer free office space and Wifi access to youth business.
Mpofu said Wifi stations would be set up within the 100 days all over Gauteng, “institutions and centres will have to apply and consultations will be held, we will then prioritise it according to where it is needed.”
Saul Musker, a first year Bachelor of Arts student at Wits wrote an open letter to Wits SRC president Sibulele Mgudlwa’s . Mgudlwa wrote what he called a “Closed Open letter to an illusory white friend“. Below is Musker’s response to Mgudlwa’s letter.
Firstly, you will note that this is an open letter. I mean, actually an open letter, not a closed open one. You lamented in last week’s Wits Vuvuzela (“Closed” open letter to an illusory white friend”) that you do not have a white friend. I was terribly sorry to hear this; I could see how it pains you. I was also sorry to discover that you are “suffering from an incorrigible personality characterized by traces of mild ignorance and largely baseless stereotypes”.Acceptance is the first step to healing, they say.[pullquote]why can’t black people befriend me?[/pullquote]Let me start out by saying that I have read many similar letters before. Each represents an honest reflection on their prejudices, a well-intentioned attempt to understand their racial isolation. Yours, though, is the first such piece I have seen by a black writer. Indeed, most white folk will find your argument familiar; the number of times I have had to endure lectures by white acquaintances about why they have no black friends is beyond count (because they’re just so different, we have no common ground and the ever-present ‘why can’t black people befriend me?’). Each time I cringe, and, believe me, I cringed no less reading your frank confessional.
The truth is that, much like your white intellectual kin, your charming ‘honesty’ is no more than a clever shroud behind which to obscure a deep and noxious prejudice. I see a broader problem with your words. Your letter reduces race elations to a clash of the classes, a case of the divide between poor black students and their rich white counterparts. It does not matter how statistically accurate this picture may be. What you have accomplished is to reduce people, human beings, to the sum of their economic context. You establish a dichotomy in which poor black res-dwellers find it impossible to forge relationships with wealthier white suburbanites. This dichotomy is precisely what prevents meaningful inter-racial dialogue on campus.
You suggest that you need a white friend “for financial benefit, which includes getting a lift to Bree taxi rank whenever necessary”. With that glib sentence you unfairly relegate black students to the users of taxi ranks, refusing to allow them the dignity of being defined by other measures. You unfairly relegate white students (who may well have been born into unearned privilege) to the ranks of the rich, denying them the right to be something more than that. Walking around Wits, one encounters a variety people.[pullquote]You suggest that you need a white friend “for financial benefit, which includes getting a lift to Bree taxi rank whenever necessary[/pullquote]r
One sees poor black students and their white private-school counterparts who have transcended their differences to develop profound and rewarding relationships. One also sees people like you, who remain so rooted in their one-dimensional, self-congratulatory racism (and laziness) that they cannot.
I only wonder how you, now a self-confessed racist, managed to become our SRC president. We needed better.
Your white brother, who could have been your white friend,
The Political Studies (politics) department has written that it is “deeply disappointed” by the action taken by the Wits Legal Office following allegations of sexual harassment made by Wits Vuvuzela, last year. The department alleges that it was effectively “gagged” by the Wits Legal Office in its attempt to address the allegations against one of its staff members. A response written by the Head of Department, Professor Daryl Glaser, was widely circulated via email on Monday evening.
“Not long after the publication of this article, members of [the Politics] Department learnt that this report most probably concerned one of our colleagues,” said the open letter.
In an interview with Wits Vuvuzela last week, Glaser confirmed an investigation was underway against the former HOD, but stopped short of confirming the identity of the individual.
But in this latest letter Glaser did not shy away from naming Prof Rupert Taylor as the academic at the centre of the allegations.
“We have not been impressed with the way in which the university legal department has dealt with this issue”
According to Glaser, the department was informed “at a meeting with the legal office that they would set up an investigation into the rumours and allegations.” They were advised by the legal office “that actions taken by [the] department could potentially complicate any future investigation or other related initiatives.”
The politics department stated in their response: “While we appreciate that discretion and restraint are required here, we have not been impressed with the way in which the university legal department has dealt with this issue.”
“When Prof Taylor stepped down, we were explicitly instructed not to say anything about why there was a new head of department. When we raised the prospect of discussing sexual harassment with our students, we were expressly forbidden from doing so, as it might compromise the investigation,” said Glaser.
Dikeledi Selowa, a former politics first year class representative for 2012, told Wits Vuvuzela that no information was given to the students by the department and they weren’t provided with a platform to discuss the allegations.
The department’s response explained: “When our students wanted to hold a public meeting to exchange experiences and handling of sexual harassment on campus, they were informed that no persons or departments could be named, that it could only take the form of a protest.”
“No public comment of any sort was permissable”
Glaser told Wits Vuvuzela that that no students had come forward with official statements against Prof Taylor. But the department was also discouraged from asking students to come forward “because the act of asking them about sexual harassment would compromise anything that they reported in response.”
He continued by saying: “When we repeatedly pushed for a public statement from the university in response to the Vuvuzela article, nothing was forthcoming. No public comment of any sort was permissible.
“In our opinion, the extreme conservatism and lack of responsiveness of the legal department has been a major stumbling block in addressing this issue.”
The letter stated that until now the legal office has still not communicated with the politics department what happened to the investigation. But instead has “effectively gagged [the] department from making public statements or taking other public initiatives in the name of protecting an investigation.”
Wits Legal office refuses to comment
Wits Vuvuzela tried to contact the Legal Office for a response to the allegations made by the political studies department but they refused to comment.
Tasneem Wadvalla, a spokesperson for the legal office, responded by saying that because of the virtue of their (the legal office) position within the university, where they might have to act as legal representation for the Wits Vuvuzela, they cannot engage in answering questions about allegations or any other legal matters within the university.
According to Wits University spokesperson, Shirona Patel, there were two investigations on sexual harassment currently happening at the university. “The first, where an individual was named, was that of Tsepo wa Mamatu, while the second was a campus-wide inquiry where all people have been encouraged to come forward with allegations of sexual harassment.”[pullquote]”There is scope for a more effective university response to sexual harassment and sexual violence on our campus.”[/pullquote]
The political department felt that “It is imperative that investigations prompted by the Vuvuzela article exceed the mandate of the announced inquiry” They said that the “conservative” approach to the issue “suggest a desire to avoid grappling with the full dimensions of this critical issue and feel that a general inquiry primarily focusing upon general policy and procedure is inadequate.”
The department said they were “frustrated” that this issue has gone on for so long without a strong public statement by the university, and that there is scope for a more “effective university response to sexual harassment and sexual violence on our campus.”
The open letter suggested that the approach of the legal department needs to be reviewed and “information needs to be constantly and immediately available for students and staff so that they are empowered to secure their own safety.”
“Students and staff need to be heard, involved and consulted in the process of battling sexual violence of all forms on this campus.”