Tsholofelo Wesi
2 minute read
24 Aug 2015
2:40 pm

Film on Stellenbosch racism a ‘misrepresentation’

Tsholofelo Wesi

Representation of institutional racism in hard-hitting documentary Luister has become a matter of contention between the university and activist student movement, Open Stellenbosch.

The documentary Luister was created by Cape Town-based media company Contraband. PIC: YouTube.

The university has criticised the film for “misrepresentation”, emphasising what Stellenbosch media office’s senior liaison practitioner, Martin Viljoen, said was the university’s commitment to transformation.

Open Stellenbosch responded in a statement: “We are disappointed that even now, confronted with the raw testimony of students talking about our personal lived experiences of racism and violence, the university continues to insist that our voices are a ‘misrepresentation’.”

In a press release, the university detailed the steps it has taken towards transformation, such as the removal of the Verwoerd plague, “strategic appointments in top management” and an investment of R70 million in the diversification of the university’s staff corps.

Viljoen said: “Management is deeply aware of the fact that the institutional culture is experienced by some students as unwelcoming. This is an element that receives top priority at the university and very focused interventions aimed at creating a welcoming and inclusive campus culture has been launched over the last couple of years at SU.”

The effects of the “unwelcoming” culture was described by one student in the documentary, who says: “Basically it goes as deep as having to die as a black person to survive in Stellenbosch.”

Viljoen pointed out it was not the case that the university took disciplinary action against students who participated in protests, as it is claimed in the documentary.

He said: “Actions such as the disruption of a lecture, the sit-in in an administrative building and the disruption of a careers fair in July are completely unacceptable, and the university has an obligation to act against the guilty parties in these cases.”

Open Stellenbosch, however, argued: “All of this occurred after three months of Open Stellenbosch repeatedly attempting to engage with management, we have been ignored and there have been numerous attempts by management to silence us. No violence has occurred, and no property has been damaged.”

Luister has received 60 000 views since it was released last week Thursday on YouTube and trended at number on Twitter nationwide.