By Catherine Torrington
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 8 of VARSITY.
On 3 September, a protest was held in Leo Marquard residence against a candidate who was running for House Committee, a student-run committee in place in all UCT residences. The candidate had allegedly assaulted another student the day before. In posters put up around campus, students were encouraged to join the protest against “Hypermasculinity and queer-based violence.” The candidate later withdrew his application for House Committee (“House Com”), but the protest went ahead.
— Caroline Petersen (@caroline_journo) September 3, 2018
VARSITY news spoke to the chairperson of Rainbow UCT, Viwe Telani, who was at the protest and spoke at Leo Marquard on behalf of Rainbow UCT. “The current house com was happy for us to be there. They definitely feel like transformation [at Leo Marquard] has to happen.”
Telani spoke at the protest, highlighting that UCT protects students of all sexual orientations, as South Africa does in the Constitution. He encouraged queer students to speak out about their experiences in UCT residences.
The warden of Leo Marquard, Daniel Munene, also spoke at the protest. Although he acknowledged that he usually does not get involved in House Com elections, he said that he felt that it was important to reiterate and highlight the sort of candidate Leo Marquard was looking for to run for House Com. “Leo Marquard has taken on many transformative processes, but there is still room to grow and to unlearn certain things,” he said. He also stated that he was willing to facilitate the transformative process.
UCT has been encouraging transformation and inclusivity. Recently, UCT introduced an inclusivity policy for sexual orientation, to protect and provide for all students. This policy has been discussed since 2014, driven forward by student participation and engagement, and was finally put into action in July 2018. In the policy, procedures on how UCT should deal with anyone who discriminates against people on the basis of sexual orientation have been laid out. Under this policy, students found guilty of discriminating against other students on the basis of sexual orientation can be excluded from the university. “Those people who are found to be guilty can find themselves without a place at the university, because there is no place for people who are going to be discriminatory against other people,” says Telani. “Being discriminatory goes against the vision, mission and values of UCT,” he continued. The Office for Inclusivity and Change is currently investigating the matter.
VARSITY reporter Caroline Petersen was at the event, live tweeting. Click here to see it.