The second Student Representative Council (SRC) caucus on Tuesday was marked by controversial answers given by the candidates to questions asked by the floor.
Transcending Leadership was the official theme of the caucus and the candidates motivated their standing for SRC with this in mind. Rape culture in residences, religious tolerance and gender neutral bathrooms were the main issues discussed at Huis Russel Botman House.
SRC candidate and outgoing Primarius of Eendrag Men’s residence, Ben Moolman, was painted as a controversial figure when asked to account for the alleged manner in which Eendrag perpetuates rape culture on campus.
Engineering student Hazel Sekeso referred to an alleged incident when Eendrag residents attempted to get into Sonop in their underwear. “How have you questioned these types of practices, where boys can still run around naked in 2017?” she asked.
“To be honest, this is my first time hearing about this,” said Moolman. According to him, the practice of running naked on campus is a banned practice in Eendrag. He added that the residence had even elected a female House Committee member to gain a female perspective on certain issues.
His response was further challenged by former SRC member, Lwazi Pakade.
Fellow SRC candidate and outgoing Sonop Primaria Kate Roodt said that she was not aware of such an incident. “As far as I’m aware there was never any information given to me – both on my HK [Whatsapp group] or in person by anyone. Nor did I hear a commotion, which is strange because my room is right there,” she said.
Omri Jacobsz, a third year Electrical Engineering student, motivated his standing by saying that his religious beliefs guided him to believe that he should serve others and put his own intentions last.
Chemical engineering student Dylan Swigelaar challenged Jacobsz to explain how he would help a student who felt uncomfortable in his residence because house meetings were opened in prayer, given his religious convictions.
Jacobsz pointed out that the constitutional right to freedom of religion should be taken into consideration. “So if you’re going to do something that offends someone, you’re going to have someone have a hard heart and then you can’t be collaborative,” said Jacobsz.
He was then obliged to give a practical example of how he would deal with issues of this nature at the insistence of Kerwin Jacobs.
“We should treat everyone in a respectable manner,” said Jacobsz. He then gave an example of how his offer to pray during the Tygerberg SRC caucus was rejected. “You must see if it offends people, that’s how we should deal with it.”
Gender neutral bathrooms provided a further talking point when the candidates were asked by show of hands if they supported the installation of gender neutral bathrooms around campus.
Omri Jacobsz, Lwando Nkamisa, Ben Moolman and Zimkitha Ludonga were the only candidates who did not raise their hands.
Nkamisa amended his response saying he would support the initiative if it was feasible.
SRC candidate Aluwani Ramarumo was in favour of the initiative, saying it was “as simple as changing the stickers on the doors”. Roodt answered that such an initiative would require more than that. Changing the mentality of the majority to that of a minority takes time, according to Roodt.
The next caucus will be held today, 16 August, in the BA Building at 6 PM. – Christina Pitt and Dylan Jack