Some UFS students celebrate announcement that Jansen is stepping down

2016-05-16 16:30
Jonathan Jansen (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

Jonathan Jansen (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

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Bloemfontein – While some students at the University of the Free State have said that Jonathan Jansen stepping down was a loss, a group of students danced and celebrated after the announcement.

Jansen announced on Monday that he would step down from his position as rector and vice chancellor at the end of August. 

"Most of the students are celebrating. Any reasonable person who is in the shoes of the students who have suffered victimisation of... [being] excluded because they did not agree with the university's transformation policies, would celebrate the news that Prof Jansen is stepping down," Student Representative Council president Lindokuhle Ntuli told News24.    

"We can only hope that his replacement will be a progressive rector. We need a courageous leader who will challenge the system." 

Refilwe Motsumi, an LLB student at the institution, said it was alarming that since the student protests earlier this year, Jansen had never addressed them.  

"I am angry that, since February 22, he still hasn't addressed students and now he is leaving. We hate the fact that he has always tried to accommodate us, but he never accepted us – he is resigning without addressing us," she said. 

Mass brawl

Another LLB student, Brandon van Wyk, said Jansen was an exceptional leader and his resignation was a loss to the university.  

Jansen's move comes a few months after UFS student protesters called for him to step down.

In February, the university received a lot of media attention after a small group of students led by the SRC president embarked on a protest which culminated in a mass brawl at the Varsity Cup rugby match at Shimla Park stadium.

EFF protesters also pulled down and vandalised a statue of Charles Robberts Swart at the university.

Swart was the last governor general of the Union of South Africa until 1961, and was president of the Republic of South Africa from 1961 to 1967.

Protesters burnt tyres at the foot of the statue, and used hammers and rocks to bring it down.

Transformation and decolonisation 

They were demanding that students facing deregistration should be allowed to complete their academic year, and for transformation and "decolonisation" to be fast-tracked.

Protesters also wanted campus buildings renamed after black struggle heroes, and for poor students to be given preference when it came to placement, without ignoring the academic criteria already in place.

In an interview with News24 in April, Jansen denied rumours that he was stepping down.

"I am not going anywhere. These speculations about me leaving have gone on forever. I receive e-mails every day asking me if I am leaving," he said.

He was appointed rector and vice chancellor in July 2009.

Jansen will take up an invitation as a Fellow at the Centre for Advanced Studies in the Behavioural Sciences at the US's Stanford University in September 2016.

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