by Sinikiwe Mqadi | Apr 10, 2015 | Opinion
Tshepo Mothiba. Photo: Sinikiwe Mqadi
Tshepo Mothiba is a programme project officer at the Wits Transformation Office. He spoke to Wits Vuvuzela about the challenge of having few Black South African academics. Only 14% of Wits’s academic staff are black South Africans.
Why are there so few black academics at Wits?
I do not think academic careers are attractive. Universities cannot afford to compete with a private sector which offers people better salaries. Some people have been discriminated against because of their gender and race, even students. So, as soon as they finish their degree all they want, is to leave Wits. We have had cases of people coming to us saying they were not promoted because they are black. Some people do not feel they fit in to the culture of the institution.
Do you think Wits promotes black African academics?
Over the years, Wits has put in place measures aimed at providing support to develop academics.However, the transformation process has been very slow. Wits has always portrayed itself as non-racial but there are challenges with employment equity. The university says it cannot find suitable-qualified academics, as they cannot compete with private sector.
Who should be blamed for this?
The apartheid system. Even today, white people still have privilege. In job interviews, blacks compete with people who are being interviewed in their [first] language, so they stand a better chance of getting a job. The legacy of discrimination is still felt even today.
What should the government’s role be?
Universities are independent institutions. They are the ones who should tell government what to do. Still, government should use its available resources and influence to drive change in all sectors including higher education. It is important for government to develop performance indicators and to ensure continuous monitoring in this regard.
What is the role of the transformation office?
We are playing the supporting and advisory role. We ensure transformation is put on the agenda of relevant structures across the university. But, it is the people in the position of power who have to bring change. The university schools have a responsibility to present reasonable targets in terms of the Actively Employed People statistics.
by Robyn Kirk | Apr 30, 2014 | News
HEAVY THOUGHTS: The Wits Transformation Office held a round table discussion on race which stirred up a heated debate amongst the audience.
Photo: Lameez Omarjee
By Robyn Kirk and Lameez Omarjee
Race continues to be an issue in South Africa, even in the apparently transformed halls of higher education.
This was the predominant view of the audience at the Wits Transformation Office roundtable discussion on campus earlier today. The discussion looked at the relevance of race in the 20 year old democracy of South Africa but focused on the issue of transformation in higher education.
The Wits Transformation Office maintains that Wits University has transformed in terms of both race and gender over the last 20 years. But speakers at the discussion felt otherwise.
Athi-Nangamso Nkopo, a Master’s student in Political Science and founder of the Feminist Forum said that “although Wits University has improved in the racial representation of students enrolled, not enough systems are in place to ensure non-white students succeed and graduate. She argued that “in higher education, not enough is being done for women to advance,” and added that the improvements on campus are not an accurate representation of the demographics of the country.
Michlene Mongae, the Secretary General of the Wits SRC (Students Representatives Council), pointed out that within the space of the university different racial groups tolerated one another, however this was not the case within private spaces such as at home or with friends. She also indicated that actively trying to look beyond race clearly shows that race still matters.
Mongae argued that in the past, white students were the most politically active on campus and over 20 years, black students have become the more politically dominant group on campus. “White students do not protest because they do not have to,” responded Mashele.
The comment sparked interest from the audience, where one audience member noting that the lack of white students at a discussion about race is an indication of the aparthy towards the issue.
by Prelene Singh | Sep 13, 2013 | Featured 1
A GAY OLD TIME: The winning team, Wits All Stars, with members of the Wham! team clap at the end of the game to celebrate a game well played. Photo: Prelene Singh
THE QUEERS of Wits Pride 2013 and members of Wits Sport went head-to-head in an entertaining game of rugby, on Wednesday night at the Wits Rugby Club.
Wham!, an amateur mixed-gender, queer social rugby club, and the Wits All Stars, a team put together by Wits Sport, played a fun and exuberant game with the Wits All Stars winning 26-24.
The game was part of the Wits Pride campaign which was held on campus this past week. The aim of the match was to tackle prejudices against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and asexual (LGBTIA) people of the Wits community.
This epic square-off began weak as the Wham! team tried to get their footing. Wits All Stars came in strong with a leading score by half-time.
[pullquote align=”right”]“One of the aims of Wits Pride 2013 is to establish a safe campus community for all our students and staff. This is particularly important in light of the rising number of attacks on queer South Africans, especially lesbians and trans-women,”[/pullquote]
The second half saw the Wham! players score epic tries and some ambitious drop goals, which quickly made them fast and head-strong competitors.
The game was all in fun as it aimed to integrate people of queer identity with the rest of society. Wham! was created as an alternative space for queer, which includes LGBTIA, people to meet in a healthy social environment.
“Not only is Wham! comprised of members who identify as queer in some way, it is also comprised of players of all genders – none of whom are scared to go for the tackle,” said Transformation Office programme manager Ella Kotze.
The Wham! and Wits All Stars game took place amid the annual Wits Pride festivities, under the theme “Being Me”. Wits Pride is hosted by the Transformation Office.
“One of the aims of Wits Pride 2013 is to establish a safe campus community for all our students and staff. This is particularly important in light of the rising number of attacks on queer South Africans, especially lesbians and trans-women,” said Kotze.
by Pheladi Sethusa | Sep 13, 2013 | Featured 1, News
WHITE NOISE: The exhibition Substation art gallery was poorly attended. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
By Nolwazi Mjwara and Pheladi Sethusa
Empty lecture rooms where talks were planned, no information tent and an exhibition with no pull are some of the things that contributed to the dark cloud that hung over this year’s Wits Pride celebrations.
Wits Vuvuzela headed out earlier in the week hoping to bump into people dressed in rainbow colours, ready to see all the events but all those hopes were dashed by a lack of noticeable fanfare for Wits Pride. [pullquote align=”right”]“I had no idea that it’s Pride this week. I think they haven’t advertised it enough”[/pullquote]
Witsie after Witsie had no idea that it was Wits Pride this week, largely due to the lack of visible advertising around campus.
“I had no idea that it’s Pride this week. I think they haven’t advertised it enough,” said Jabulani Moyo, 3rd year BSc Eng.
A daily exhibition held at the Substation art gallery was poorly attended. Few came to see the beautiful self-portraits by artist by Germaine de Larch.
Ella Kotze, programme officer of the Transformation Office, defended the promotion of Wits Pride on campus.
“In terms of marketing, we have put close to 1 000 posters up across all of Wits’ campuses. We have been very active on Facebook and Twitter, and we have also had a very good relationship with Voice of Wits, who has gone out of their way to promote our events and the whole concept of Wits Pride,”she said.
Kotze agreed that attendance at some events was disappointing, particularly Tuesday’s panel discussion and films.
PORTRAIT: Photography by Germaine de Larch was on sale, at a pricey R1 500 a portrait. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
However, Kotze said that an information stand and tours to Hillbrow and Constitutional Hill were very successful.
“Contributing factors are possibly varied and may include timing, as well as type of activity – perhaps Witsies don’t like movies as much as we thought,” Kotze said.
We need pride
“Pride is very, very, very necessary on campus,” said Wits Pride organising committee member Jeremiah Sepotokele, 3rd Law.
He believes the overriding culture on campus was still “very hetero-normative”, especially in a lot of the men’s residences like Knockando.
“As men’s res there’s a culture that’s very hetero, violent and masculine. That’s problematic,” said Sepotokele.
Many students start at Wits start out as homophobic but their perspective changes.
Sam Allan, 2nd year BSc, said that she was ignorant of gay rights before she had gay friends.
“I couldn’t stand gay people before,” she said.
It was only after spending time with gay people that did she begin to accept them for who they were.
Allan said she would have liked to have gone to Wits Pride events, had she known about them.