'Luister' made me uncomfortable, says Stellies VC - As it happened

2015-09-01 13:30

Stellenbosch University's Vice Chancellor says he felt uncomfortable while watching the documentary "Luister", saying he was saddened at the pain felt by some of the institution's students.

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Last Updated at 07:36
01 Sep 13:39

News24 will be closing Live updates of the portfolio committee meeting looking into transformation at the University of Stellenbosch.

Log onto News24 later today for official wraps from the rest of the sitting, due to end at 14:00.

Read on for presentations from SU's leadership, including Rector Pr Wim de Villiers, with regards to transformation and language policies at the Western Cape institution...


01 Sep 13:15

“We’ve had personal interactions with members of the collective and that has been fruitful, and what we found most constructive to engage with bodies such as the SRC, DASO, SASCO and we hope it continues. 

“I really appreciate this input, and as I’ve said before, I want to welcome you to visit the campus in future.”

At that, Minister for Higher Education Blade Nzimande takes his leave to attend another meeting in Johannesburg.


01 Sep 13:15

“There is a good relationship between the municipality and the South African police force. There are efforts to get all the surrounding communities involved in the life of Stellenbosch.

“Second issue: in the video, there are about six Elsenburg students that are interviewed. Those students belong to the department of the Western Cape, they do not fall under the auspices of Stellenbosch University (although we do accredit one of those courses).

“Third: There is a lack of gender diversity. Generally, the amount of female lecturers is around 50%, but there is a bottleneck as we go to senior management.

“Fourth: It’s inadequate for us to have 17% of our staff as black, coloured and Indian. We share this issue with all SA higher education institutes. We also want to invest R70m to recruit senior role models to convince other black, coloured, Indian students to come to our institution.

“Fifth: With regard to multi-lingualism, the new first year student enrolments from this year, 47% say their home language is English, Afrikaans, 45%, Other 8-9%."


01 Sep 13:12
“I’m going to attempt to answer some of these questions. I apologise if some of the questions are not exactly attended to, but we will provide documentation further on," says Wim de Villiers.

01 Sep 13:11

Four questions arose from MPs and invited guests during the very long question-asking session. They are:

- How many of those lectures are being translated, what is being done to improve translations?

- What's being done to ensure the university is multilingual and not simply marketed as multilingual?

- When all is said and done, the status of a black child won’t change. Do you agree with that?

- Why do black students feel so disillusioned with university management’s efforts to combat racism at the university?


01 Sep 12:15
MPs are now directing questions at Stellenbosch University management.

Summary of questions to follow...

01 Sep 12:02
Qina wraps up his 3-minute speech.

01 Sep 12:00

“Transformation calls for us to embrace humanness first. The root of the problem is that there are students who don’t feel welcome.

“The leadership structure should understand its role.”


01 Sep 11:59

After greeting everyone in three languages, including isiXhosa, Qina says:

“Racism is unacceptable. There needs to be a social deconstruction of apartheid. Our vision for campus is for students to see each other as human beings first.

“Transformation is an organic change.”


01 Sep 11:57
Incoming SRC President Axolile Qina is now speaking...

01 Sep 11:54
“SU is not a racist university, but there are racists at this university.”

01 Sep 11:53
"The focus therefore turns to what we as a student body can do to battle these incidents."

01 Sep 11:53
"The vast majority of racism is by students, on students, which occur all too frequently."

01 Sep 11:52
"I will address issues pertaining specifically to the incidences in the Luister video."

01 Sep 11:52
"The SRC believes in a campus that is welcoming to all students. Anything that goes against this must be removed," says SRC president Stefan Laign.

01 Sep 11:51
The outgoing President of SU's SRC is now addressing the committee.

01 Sep 11:51
"Students ask if there is a Code of Conduct with regard to fighting racism?"

"I don't think there is one, and we will be following up on that."

With that, Le Roux Burrows concludes for SU's Institutional Forum.

01 Sep 11:49

"We monitor that the higher education policies of the department are being implemented.

"We could be doing a lot more on this regard, if I can be critical," says Burrows.


01 Sep 11:48
"All issues of student problems comes across the table of the Institutional Forum."

01 Sep 11:47
"I want to highlight one thing. What is the role of the institutional forum in managing transformation on the campus?"

01 Sep 11:45

Le Roux Burrows of Stellenbosch University now speaking:

"Transformation first-and-foremost is a mindset change.

"Transformation much make you feel uncomfortable. We must keep on looking and actively listening."


01 Sep 11:35

“There is a broad support for transformation and progress at Stellenbosch University.

“We want to invite the committee and minister to come and experience for yourself what we have at Stellenbosch University,” he says in conclusion.


01 Sep 11:30
Professor Wim de Villiers is speaking again now to summarise as the university’s allotted time for speaking draws to a close.

01 Sep 11:28

"'Why do students fail?' some ask," says Schoonwinkel.

“For one, the home situation may not be conducive to helping the student. To challenge this, we’ve reassessed placements of students in residences.  

“There is also school backgrounds. We’ve implemented extensive tutor programmes to assist with this. We’ve implemented language courses, writing labs and reading labs to help with students who struggle.”


01 Sep 11:24

“Some people say that isiXhosa is only used as a front for multi-lingualism. The university is investing significantly in isiXhosa as a medium to teach, particularly in medicine.

“The purpose of this is to give instruction in a dualistic way.”


01 Sep 11:24

“Police matters, invitation matters and there were other matters.

“First of all, when it comes to policy issues, one of the issues, is that the word ‘safeguard’ means maintain the status and privilege of Afrikaans.

“How should that be rephrased to give equitable access to language, the task team will look into that.”


01 Sep 11:18

01 Sep 11:18
“Since 2011, many classes have gone from 45% offers in English, to two-thirds, which represents significant transformation.”

01 Sep 11:16

01 Sep 11:14
“The new policy states explicitly that there must be parallel medium teaching.”

01 Sep 11:11

“Isixhosa at SU is a developing academic language.

“The language policy is through strategic intent aimed at giving access to black, coloured and indian students.”


01 Sep 11:10
“We use language for engagement with knowledge. It has nothing to do with any cultural preferences,” Schoonwinkel says.

01 Sep 11:10
Prof Arnold Schoonwinkel from SU now addressing the language policy:

01 Sep 11:00

“We want to not only diversify staff, but make sure there is transformation competence.

“We are in the process of establishing a fully-staffed office of transformation.

“This will be a researched-based journey. We will employ two full professors for transformation, reconciliation and Justice.

“By 2020, we want at least 50-50 demographics in the student body.”


01 Sep 10:58

“We strive to make a contribution to a South Africa of human dignity.

“The most foundational value is the value of human dignity.”


01 Sep 10:57

“We want to be a university where restitution is practiced and materializes.

“The transformation journey from exclusion to inclusion; sole ownership to joint ownership.

“From an Afrikaans university to a multilingual university; from division and discrimination to togetherness.”


01 Sep 10:55
"Our focus as a university has definitely moved to transformation, an incomplete and imperfect but steadfast journey," says Koopman.

01 Sep 10:43
Professor Nico Koopman from SU is now addressing the committee.

01 Sep 10:43
"We are on this journey of transformation, and we are steadfast and committed."

01 Sep 10:43

"It's somewhat ironic that the video is entitled Luister.

"We have an initiative called Luister, live and learn. We are open to change. We are committed to an open discussion.

"We are listening, we are talking, we will continue to do so.

"We will continue to build a community of social justice and equal opportunity. We want to have inclusive and diverse experience for students and staff."


01 Sep 10:40
"We must avoid creating two sides to this debate. We want to move forward, but not leave anyone behind."

01 Sep 10:40

"We need to avoid the serious danger of polarisation.

"Social media has become awash with racist slurs.

"What's concerning is the 'us vs them' mentality that is re-emerging."


01 Sep 10:38

"On the accusation that management at the university ignores complaints of racism. This is simply not true.

"We are investigating the proposals from open Stellenbosch and the SRC, and we want to handle this correctly."


01 Sep 10:37
"I must add though that incidents at pubs and clubs is not under our control, and is difficult for us to monitor."

01 Sep 10:36
"We have no problem with the pressure to change. Change should be uncomfortable."

01 Sep 10:36

"There are still problems 21 years after democracy.

"The born frees have arrived on campus and they can think for themselves."


01 Sep 10:35

"Students should be critical. I have been promoting this since day one.

"There is turbulence on campuses countrywide, which is why we welcome the opportunity to discuss this in Parliament today."


01 Sep 10:34
"We dismissed a lecturer who had sent a racist sms earlier this year.

"But there are also many examples of covert or subtle racism which occurs on our campus.

"I assure you that transformation is at the top of our agenda because it is the right thing to do."

01 Sep 10:33

"Let me now turn to the Luister video," de Villiers continued.

"The Luister video talks about very real issues.

"I watched it with my wife. We found it extremely uncomfortable. It contains valued lived experiences.

"And hearing these narratives of racism is painful to me.

"I'm not going to defend the indefensible. These things are wrong, end of story.

"What is wrong must be fixed."


01 Sep 10:32

"The university is intimately involved in many, many transformation programmes.

"We are proud of the transformation legacy."

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