I relate, to an extent

2016-02-24 06:00


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THE recent uprisings at The University of Cape Town have reminded us all that we still largely reside in a country that is divided, not only in terms of economic privilege, but also in terms of race.

The #RhodesMustFall movement has broadened their spectrum to advocating for young black people who, according to them, are largely prejudiced against by the administration of the university when it comes to the allocation of residence spaces and by the fact that the University is still failing to reduce the many barriers black students face trying to succeed at UCT.

We have all had our views on this issue — some of us were appalled, and rightfully so, that students would destroy property in the name of seeking progress; some of us sympathised with the movement and said “If the only way we can get the university to listen is to burn then let it be.”

Regardless of where you stand in this issue, acknowledge that we have a problem with education. Acknowledge that we need solutions to it, and not a blatant denial of the problems that seriously exist.

What exactly does acknowledging mean in is regard? During my high school years, I learnt many very valuable lessons.

Not coming from the most privileged background, I knew very well how important it was for me to be educated so that I would be able to build a bright future for myself. That attitude is what got me to write to Crawford College asking for a bursary. It must be noted here that I was already at a very good school.

I was already given my right to an education, but I wanted more. I wanted Crawford College which, to me, was the best.

When Crawford wrote to me saying that I would not be able to attend from Grade 10, I was upset, yes. But I also understood that the terms that had been set out were not merely for me to challenge haphazardly.

I had to bring something new to the table—I had to present concrete proof that showed that I would be a good investment.

I didn’t do that by burning Crawford’s buildings. I negotiated peacefully, acknowledging that regardless of what comes of the discussion, Crawford did not have an onus to fund me because there were already other avenues for me to get an education.

That’s the same spirit I feel that we must attack this problem in. Students must realise that regardless of the dire situation of black students at the university regarding housing, and trust me, I have heard of students who have had to sleep in lecture halls, it is equally up to them to provide PRACTICAL solutions after they have worked their butts off at trying to solve the issue themselves.

I am hesitant to use the word ‘entitled’ to describe the current status quo, but as this entire situation progresses more and more, I fear that I will end up having to use it.

No, I am not out of touch when I say this. Many will interpret this as me brushing off the problem that many black students face - I’m not.

I’m just saying that we each need to look at the part we must play as well. It’s the exact same advice I would give those who blame the government for all the problems South Africa has.

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