Tensions were high at the second last Student Representative Council (SRC) caucus at Metanoia Residence on the 23rd of August, which included controversial responses and misunderstandings.
Issues surrounding religion and rape culture once again featured as key concerns of the evening. The university’s centenary celebrations next year, the language policy and transformation were points of discussion as well.
Controversy and confusion prevailed after a question came from the floor asking “all those who identified as men” to respond to the recommendations made in the rape culture report released this year.
Third year Engineering student Omri Jacobsz confessed that he had not read the report but stated that he follows the principle of the Bible that says, “that the role of a godly man is to protect a woman emotionally and physically”.
Jacobsz was hit with a number of follow up questions and comments calling for him to answer the questions outside of the sphere of religion. After two more failed attempts to understand the question, and following accusations from the crowd that Jacobsz was “imposing Christianity” on the audience, the discussion was ended by the facilitator, Monree Joshua.
Bcomm Actuarial Science student Zander Prinsloo said that rape culture needed to be dealt with by interrogating culture within residences and by looking at problematic practices.
SRC candidate Mogammad Tauriq Hendrickse, a second year Education student, had also not read the rape culture report.
The candidates were also asked questions online. Nwabisa Ngcilitshana questioned the validity of celebrating the university’s 100th year of existence next year in light of the past exclusion of black people from the institution.
In response, SRC candidates Tivan Leak and Prinsloo spoke of acknowledging and learning from the past. Sonop’s outgoing Primaria, Kate Roodt, agreed with the other candidates but added that the university should focus on paying tribute to freedom fighters. “I think we should be more focused on actually paying tribute to the key role players throughout the last 100 years than just celebrating a structure or institution like Stellenbosch,” she said.
Agriculture and Economics masters student Lwando Nkamisa said he did not know whether the 20 years of access by black people to the university was worth celebrating as the university is still only 17% black.
“It’s also very important to understand the role alumni at this university played. Apartheid was formed in Dagbreek because Verwoerd was a student in this university – he resided in Dagbreek. We have to acknowledge the atrocities our alumni have committed,” he added.
To see the full streaming of the caucus that took place on Wednesday, 23 August, visit the Maties Elections Facebook page. – Andy Kohrs