Pro-anorexia blogs, lack of access to sanitary pads in underprivileged communities and accessibility for disabled students on campus. These are all issues being researched by the psychology honours class of 2017.
The class recently launched an expo of their ideas which will be exhibited at the Gallery of the University of Stellenbosch (GUS) for the next two weeks.
Tanya Brückner, a member of the honours class, said she chose to do her research on accessibility for disabled students at the University. She feels the general public lack knowledge about accessibility.
Brückner said that many of the barriers that disabled people encounter can be alleviated. However, first there needs to be more awareness. Her research is about creating a “community perspective” as opposed to a top down approach to the psychology relationship.
Brückner pointed out that the event engages people outside the department who are interested in what is going on outside of psychology. “A lot of people are interested but don’t necessarily study it,” and that is why she is “passionate about increasing the reach of psychology”.
Brückner’s classmate Lutho Magengelele’s research focuses on women from low socio-economic communities. Specifically, her research looks at how they do not have access to sanitary pads. Many of these women sometimes experience hindrances to their education.
Magengelele recalled a recent incident in India where a 12-year-old girl committed suicide after being ridiculed by a teacher because her period leaked. “We need to get our ideas out there… These events help students to place their information out there,” she said.
Speaking about the significance of the event Magengelele said: “It’s important to learn something outside of your field”. She pointed out that their studies often deal with social issues that affect everyone, but that not everyone feels comfortable talking about.
Honours, for most students, is the first time in their academic career when they start to develop specialised expertise. So said Dr Anthea Lesch of the Faculty of Psychology.
Lesch says that the event helps students to talk about their work with other students and that “often research is quite a lonely process”.
“This is the first time students get to see the work of their classmates and invite their friends and family to be part of that process,” Lesch explained. “It is very important that we have spaces like this”.
Commenting from the perspective of a student not studying psychology Kerwin Jacobs said: “Often students get stuck in their specific course domains.”
Jacobs said that the event encourages students to go beyond their own disciplines. He added that “we need to see how we can bring those disciplines together in a specifically decolonial way”.
Jacobs attended the event in his official capacity as chairperson of the Stellenbosch University branch of the Democratic Alliance Students Organisation. – Aydn Parrott