University of Cape Town SASCO
Steve Biko Student Development Building
Letter of Complaint To Varsity Newspaper
SASCO UCT (The South African Students Congress) would like to express its dismay and disgust at the recent poll undertaken by Varsity newspaper to determine the most "attractive" race, a distasteful piece of pseudo-journalism that evokes Apartheid-style racial classifications.
Whether this is a publicity stunt or an expression of your latent racism, SASCO will not stand idly by whilst you spit on South Africa's struggle for racial equality.
It is important that a dialogue surrounding race at UCT be had, but Varsity's actions do not contribute to this dialogue. Varsity newspaper has freedom of expression, but they have an equal responsibility for the consequences of what they publish. The poll abuses this freedom and infringes on the freedom of students not to be judged on the basis of race.
Furthermore, the poll serves to entrench the social construct of race and racial divisions that many South Africans have committed their lives to breaking down. The poll is an insult to these heroes and is not befitting of the new South Africa. It deepens the culture of racial divide and increases the sense of insecurity felt by black students that their cultural identity is inferior and that they must conduct themselves in a “white manner” in order to be accepted socially. In publishing this poll, Varsity newspaper has chosen to be ignorant to the debilitating sense of inferiority felt by many African students in the white-majority campus environment. Varsity newspaper should be empowering students, not furthering disparagement. In the new South Africa, black is beautiful and so is every other shade on the rainbow spectrum, so to encourage contrary views would be to undermine the camaraderie and tolerance of a non-racial South Africa.
Regardless of the outcome of the poll, it is an offensive notion that Varsity newspaper thinks they can classify students according to race and then attach a value (in terms of beauty) to this arbitrary classification. It is an insult to every student’s dignity that Varsity has subdivided them and made a statement about their attractiveness on an arbitrary basis.
SASCO UCT would like to request that the editor and journalist responsible be taken to a disciplinary hearing for inciting racial discrimination. There is no excuse for letting this blatant racism pass by with a slap on the wrist.
There is great peril in indifference; we would like to appeal to UCT not to be indifferent whilst bigotry is propagated in your name.
Yours in disappointment
Markus Trengove Joshua Nott
Chairperson, SASCO UCT Secretary, SASCO UCT
Head of Media Relations, SASCO UCT
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