Open letter to UNISA
4th January 2013
I am one of the many Unisa students who have completed a degree at the institution and will be graduating in 2013. I have spent the better part of the last 5 years studying part time with your institution while working; it has been a triumph for me indeed. It was with great adversity and determination that I have come to this juncture in my life, there were no doubt times when I felt utter desperation and that the completion of my degree was unattainable and beyond my scope. However the hope and faith and support vested in me by my family was the driving force.
After numerous long nights, early mornings, zero days off, minimal sleep and the mere idea of writing an exam and rushing back to work on the same day, the satisfaction of the completion of my degree means more to me than it would any 18-20 year old languishing at a university full time either on a bursary, full financial aid or well adjusted parents with pots of money. For me the hardship of raising a family and providing for it affords me every recognition well deserved, sparing no expense.
What irks me to the very core is that you Unisa have been using a church as a venue to confer degrees on us students while giving no due regard to our diversity? The very reason why I am completing a degree later in my life is all thanks to a country and its minority that upheld a system of apartheid which excluded the majority of South Africans. I am not a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jew or Buddhist I find it an insult to me that my degree be conferred on me in a church of which such places of worship just 19 years ago was not open to all people of colour. I do not visit churches, mosques, synagogues or temples and I do not pledge allegiances to any religion, which in retrospect is indicative of my discontent of being conferred one in such a place bar the exclusion of people of colour from churches in the previous dispensation? I hold my degree and the accomplishment thereof in very high regard, to receive it in a church, a place reserved for people of the Christian denomination by default minimises every value I cherish, every battle I selflessly fought & suffered against in the past 30 years. You Unisa have yet again bludgeoned the rights of your students and this will not be the first time you have endeavoured to do so. During Exams the second semester 2012, some students who were late to enter the exam venues by a mere 2 minutes, were boisterously ushered away from the Campus only to miss their exam? I am no doubt certain had there been a Jewish synagogue, Hindu temple or a Mosque available such venues would have been met with great circumspection by you.
Confer a degree on me in Conference venue which epitomises the struggle of the majority of South Africans who have fought against gutter education, those who are completing degrees now because the past dispensation made it impossible to do so!
Provide a neutral venue where we may stand proud to receive our degrees from a University with a vision to uphold transformation and change?
Confer my degree on me in an open neutral society inclusive of all individuals black, white, brown, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, agnostic, atheist etc. I find a sense of exclution in this instance and would rather have my degree conferred on me in absentia in such a case. I am equally disappointed and appalled with the thought that I have a degree from a University that bears no due regard or respect for the diversity of its students!!
An Ex- Unisa Student of Colour with a voice & a conscious