Incident at SU demands urgent response from institution

[trigger warning: this article contains discussions of racially motivated violence]

Stellenbosch University to take rapid action against the student who violated the dignity of a fellow student in one of the university’s men’s residences, Huis Marais, earlier this week. 

by Chrisli Markram (Staff Writer)

In the early hours on Monday, May 16th, 2022, a video displaying a White male urinating on a Black student’s belongings in the Stellenbosch University men’s residence, Huis Marais, began circulating across social media platforms. The action is considered to be racially motivated.  Huis Marais described it as simply an “incident” between two newcomers, but the caption below the video states that a clear racist comment was made.

Huis Marais addressed the incident in an Instagram post, saying, “The leadership of Huis Marais condemn such behaviour and decided to take the matter outside the internal disciplinary structures of the residence due to the magnitude thereof.” Stellenbosch University has responded to the incident with a statement which condemns racism and discrimination, stating, “Human dignity is non-negotiable and must be respected, upheld and restored when affected.” The University further reports that the student has been suspended from the institution and that the student faces possible expulsion and legal charges, after an investigation into the matter has been completed.

According to an article published by SABC News on Monday, The South African Students’ Congress (SASCO) demands Stellenbosch University’s urgent attention and response to the matter, with expulsion and legal steps with members expressing the organisation’s indignation towards the University’s response of suspension, rather than immediate, permanent, expulsion. 

This violent act of racism  carries a weighty presence on social media, where consciousness was originally raised on the matter, the tag “#Stellenbosch University” as well as the name of the student in question trending on Twitter throughout the course of the day.

This recent event has drawn attention to the institutional issues of violence, discrimination, and racism at educational facilities accross South Africa. Similar incidents have occured in the past, such as  a 2008 video that circulated on social media platforms depicting racist acts at the University of the Free State. It is a crucial time for all academic institutions in the country to assess their protocols in their responses to such acts. The spotlight is on institutional value policies in terms of inclusion, human dignity, and the rights and protection of all students, faculty, and staff. 

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