Stellenbosch University staff and students came together for an evening of entertainment at the VV Saal for the annual Dinner in the Dark.
The event, hosted by the Dis-Maties student society, raises awareness for those with disabilities and is the society’s biggest event of the year. The event aimed to raise awareness about disabilities on campus.
A three-course meal was served, but the catch was that you had to eat at least the main course while wearing a blindfold. Some people went the extra mile and ate all three courses while wearing blindfolds and this lead to some interesting experiences.
The event was emceed by incoming Dis-Maties chairperson Bongani Mapumulo who held a dialogue with former chairperson and founding member Sidney Berrington to reflect on where Dis-Maties was as a society and issues surrounding disabled students.
Mapumulo thanked the staff from the Disability Unit saying: “The staff from the unit helps us with a lot of planning aspects during evenings like these. Not just that, but also with all the other difficulties that we face as students on a daily basis. The spotlight shouldn’t only be on us, I am also thankful for the support that they show us from the time that we arrive here to the time that we come into societies such as Dis-Maties.”
Speaking about the need to start the society Berrington said: “The society was started before our committee came into power. The society was originally started in 2007 by a number of students who are now long gone but unfortunately there was not much advertising and it eventually died out.”
“In 2012, when I was a first year the Disability Unit actually asked a number of us to try and restart it because we had quite a large group of students with disabilities and those students had a number of challenges so it was necessary for a student body to help them meet those challenges. There was also a big need for people in general, students and lecturers to learn about disabilities.”
Mapumulo referred to the issue of the treatment of guide dogs on campus as something to tackle in the future. On this subject Berrington said: “Of course everybody loves dogs but the point is that the dog is not just a pet. It is like an extension of ourselves in a way. Making it a spectacle is really invasive and disrespectful. I have also experiences where people don’t acknowledge the human behind the dog. Often people also try to call the dog from across the street which can be dangerous.
“However there is also a stereotype about leaving the dog alone. We don’t mind if you want to pet the dog, as long as you ask and acknowledge the human behind the dog.”
Prizes were awarded for a quiz which tested the crowd knowledge about disabilities on campus. The event also featured a woodwind performance by students Janine and Jessica October.
At the end of the night the dance floor was opened for those that wanted to stay. – Dylan Jack