White UFS students are racist

2008-08-01 00:00

Bloemfontein — White students at the University of the Free State (UFS) are especially racist, according to a study done by the university’s Centre for Student Development and Success.

A total of 800 first-year students who live in residences were questioned at the beginning of the academic year about their feelings towards other races. The findings of the study were published in the July issue of PsyTalk, a magazine published by the Psychological Society of South Africa.

Researchers Dr Francois Strydom and Melody Mentz state in the article that the study should be interpreted within the context of two important factors.

First: “The research was done before the Reitz video was publicised, which means that the extreme attitudes and opinions could not have been influenced by the controversial events.”

The UFS made waves worldwide when a video, recorded in the Reitz men’s residence, was leaked. The video shows older, black, female cleaners being humiliated by white students.

Second, the researchers say that 80% of the students who took part in the study had attended racially mixed schools.

University of the Witwatersrand honorary professor of education Jonathan Jansen does not believe that white students are inherently racist, but are the products of their society.

“They carry with them the bitter knowledge of the injustice of the past. We don’t blame them for the sins of their forebears.”

Strydom said the research will be followed up to determine whether the students’ attitudes change during the course of their studies.

UFS spokeswoman Lacea Loader said university management had taken note of the findings and will use them in their transformation process.

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