By Milda Mojapelo
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 5 of VARSITY News.
To most people, Kramer is that Caucasian island on middle campus that just so happens to be a part of UCT. In the fourth edition of Altum Sonar, there was a feature on the outgoing Law Students Council (LSC) in which the president said, “we need to get to a point where an all-Black LSC is not a wonder.” My question is, why was this even a wonder to begin with?
Coming in to law school, I already had the impression that I would be dealing with overt racism on a daily basis. This is because wherever you happen to find yourself at UCT, people comment about how racist the faculty is. The building has become a symbol of depression and not just because of the academic expectations (and realities) but the oppression that the system exerts over the Black student. The question we ought to ask ourselves is why are students having such attitudes and opinions towards the faculty?
— UCT Law Library (@LawLibraryUCT) October 31, 2018
It is an appalling sight to bear that people of colour are a minority in the context of an African university. This is not just amongst the students but the staff as well. We are at a point where if someone refers to a lecturer as “the Black lecturer” we automatically know who is being spoken of because the representation is just so limited. The demographics are not a true reflection of the racial proportions in this country and it is a topic worth discussing. What is it that is excluding people of colour from this field?
I remember once a fellow Black student commented on how the atmosphere changes when the lecturer is Black. The truth in this is what makes me cringe, because it is our reality. We cannot always pin point the acts of discrimination, but they are there, and we feel them. The teaching styles of non-white lecturers are always subject to critique in a manner that those of white lecturers aren’t. Students are always willing to accept what is being presented by white lecturers but let the lecturer be Black with an entire LLD (Doctor of Laws), students will feel entitled to “suggest” how the learning experience could be better.
Is the lack of representation the reason we feel alienated? Is it because there has been an introduction of a paperless system (but with no provisions for laptops) that disadvantages the learning capabilities of others? Or is it because if you do not have access to funds then you are automatically excluded from learning to the best of your abilities? The policies regarding the learning you do outside of the classroom do not accommodate students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds, which is unfortunately often the reality for many Black students.
Going back to the statement by the president of the LSC, there was great anticipation to see an all-Black LSC. We as the students eagerly waited to see what they could accomplish in their term and they did more than justice. While this a positive in the prospect of Kramer’s future, it is clear that there is need for true representation of the African society so that the ‘norm’ can be reimagined.
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