Complaint lodged over student article

2013-04-05 17:15

Cape Town - The Young Communist League of SA has lodged a complaint over an opinion piece in the University of Cape Town's student newspaper, the SA Human Rights Commission said on Friday.

"We confirm we received a complaint on Thursday and we are busy looking into it.

The respondents in this matter are the Varsity newspaper, the editorial staff, and UCT," said SAHRC spokesperson Isaac Mangena.

The commission would study the complaint, list the allegations in letters to the respondents, and give them an opportunity to respond.

The commission would then deliberate and deliver a ruling timeously, depending on the co-operation of all parties.

The YCLSA UCT branch's complaint was based on a Varsity newspaper piece titled "Is Love Colour Blind?" published in the paper on Tuesday and written by Qamran Tabo.

Tabo explored interracial dating and surveyed sixty students, ten of each who said they considered themselves to be white, coloured, Indian, East Asian, "mixed" (bi-racial), or black.

A pie-chart accompanying the piece titled "UCT votes on the most attractive race" surmised that 38% of students apparently thought whites were the most "attractive" race, followed by coloureds, and Indians.

The lowest percentage by race was blacks (8%).

The piece was questioned by a number of individuals and organisations, including the UCT Student Representative Council (SRC), which said greater sensitivity should have been shown to an issue that had "painful historical significance".

Varsity news editor-in-chief Alexandra Nagel issued an apology in a press release on Thursday afternoon.


She said the newspaper's role was to act as a mediator and platform, and that the intention of the piece was for students to engage on a very prevalent topic.

It did not sanction hate speech, but endorsed the right to have an opinion and create a forum for response.

"I emphasise that the 'survey' conducted by the writer was for her personal insight and not that of a definitive, scholarly analysis. It was intended as a social commentary on the society in which she resides," Nagel said.

She formally retracted the title of the pie chart and said the chart should be read in conjunction with the article, and not as a separate piece.

The article was written in the opinions section and thus did not necessarily reflect the views of the newspaper, as stated in the online disclaimer, she said.

"I am aware of the controversy surrounding the sensitivity of race and I understand that the right to freedom of expression has its limits when used unnecessarily to discriminate against others, slandering religion, race, sexuality.

"However, Varsity feels that the writer was not abusing this right nor had the intention of issuing an attack on individual racial groups, but simply pinpointing a matter that is still affecting the lives of South Africans."

The YCLSA UCT branch, in a statement on Friday, rejected the newspaper's response and retraction of only the pie chart heading.

It stated that the article had incited racial division and caused psychological harm to students.

"We all deserve a [full] retraction and an apology from all concerned with the publication of this filth," the statement read.

"The article and its alleged survey were always leading to inculcate a culture of one race being the jewel of all others. It is despicable to read and should not have been published, even more so that we were without the full details of the survey."

It called on the university to dedicate a month to "race relations building" programmes and for the newspaper to dedicate a full page to racial issues in every issue until the end of year.

"If the editorial team is not able to fulfil the above requested feature of the newspaper, we as the YCLSA of UCT are prepared to do such an article."

UCT was not immediately available to respond.

  • Avremel Niselow - 2013-04-05 17:20

    Communists complaining about hatred? lol

      Jared Van Niekerk - 2013-04-05 17:25

      Perhaps the UCT's newspaper can do a survey about which political party's voters are the ugliest. I bet the Communists would beat everybody into a distant second place where it comes to being ugly - just look at Comrade Blade...

      Bullet Proof - 2013-04-06 12:41

      Oh piss off SAHRC, what are you going to do, arrest all those that said the white race was beautiful and fine them. As for those that complained, you just proved a point, the white race is the most beautiful and what ever you leaves a lot to be desired. you are pathetic. Are there not more pressing issues to address in this hell hole called SA.

      Bullet Proof - 2013-04-06 12:46

      I'm white, handsome, have a ten inch tongue and breath through my ears

  • Sechaba30 - 2013-04-05 17:23

    I am black and very attractive.

      Mike Lamb - 2013-04-05 17:38

      Don't forget "and modest" !

      Phoenixx - 2013-04-05 18:03

      ... and statistically you are 'bigger' than whities.

      Jackie Dee - 2013-04-05 19:29

      Dont forget arrogant and vain

  • andrejvv - 2013-04-05 17:30

    :-) funny

  • Punungwe - 2013-04-05 17:34

    Let's face it, history does not disappear down the drain very fast like a used condom. Most black boys/men I know would like to 'score' a white girl just for the prestige of having bedded the 'superior' race. For that they are likely to openly call a white woman 'attractive'. True they are attracted to the prestige. On the other hand many white men/boys who do want to sample the famed sexual prowess of black women would rather do it secretly because of the stigmatisation that comes with it. Thus while they want black women, they are not likely to openly declare them attractive and risk the shame that comes with that in their normal social circles. Thus I wouldn't consider this 'research' a true indication of the attractiveness of each race, at the same time I understand the background reasons for the result.

      Jackie Dee - 2013-04-05 19:31

      Poor twisted you, racist pig

      Punungwe - 2013-04-05 22:09

      @Bob Broom (any relation to the other Bob?) I never said white men do not find some black women attractive. I just said most wouldn't dare openly show it in their normal social circles. I don't think that's a figment of my imagination. Secondly, even within the same race concepts of beauty are different. Also even within the same race people are attracted to prestige. Many black men would rather bed a black university graduate than a black village girl. By some, not all, bedding a white woman is considered at the higher end of this prestige scale. Surely all this has a bearing on who people are likely to pronounce as 'attractive'.

  • Mike Suter - 2013-04-05 17:35

    In any other country this would have been a spoof article.

  • Gerhard - 2013-04-05 17:37

    Statistics on personal view points... Interesting, but who cares (or should care)?

  • RGM - 2013-04-05 17:40

    What a FARCE. HYPOCRITS !!!!!!!

  • RGM - 2013-04-05 17:41

    NASPERS !!!! Why is this news. .... O... I know why.... So that you can create some issues....... WAKE UP !

      hendrik.breed - 2013-04-05 21:30

      Get a life

  • marina.poniatowska - 2013-04-05 18:23

    This whole thing is silly. Get over yourselves...

  • Willem de Haan - 2013-04-05 18:27

    Pathetic bunch of mental retards - great believers in and adorers of comrade Stalin (probably the greatest genocide murderer of all time) and Mao (either ahead of Stalin or a close second when it comes to killing his own people). I am astounded that anybody in his right mind would take such people seriously.

  • Madulla Nkosi - 2013-04-05 18:46

    Can one of those clever UCT students perhaps tell me why Tiger Woods always dates 'white women', by the dozen? Is he a UCT alumnus??

  • Colin Crowther - 2013-04-05 19:11

    Whew - It could have been worse, Poll about which race has the Highest and lowest IQ

      Punungwe - 2013-04-05 22:11

      Depends on how you measure IQ. Surely if you are going to ask questions in Greek philosophy Greeks are going to come out tops.

  • Jackie Dee - 2013-04-05 19:27

    We all know what happens when commies speak.

  • hendrik.breed - 2013-04-05 21:36

    Thank God I am White. No racist thing here. Seen some taxis with "Thank God I am Black" bumper stickers. Yes, thank God...

  • Anthony Archer - 2013-04-06 05:57

    So would there have been any complaint if the black vote came out first?

  • Carrie Jepson - 2013-04-06 08:34

    Psychological harm to students - what the hell? Get over it kiddies, life is going to throw a lot more at you over the next 60 years or so. What are we educating here, a future generation of neurotics? Gimme a break!

  • Ricky Singh - 2013-04-06 10:33

    Everyone race is beautiful in their own way.We need to embrace that and like a 60's slogan,"spread the love and destroy the hate."Vanity is no gauge of any human being,its whats in your soul that shines,ultimately.

  • Janneman Brand - 2013-04-06 11:06

    they are not complaining about the survey, they are angry at the result.

  • Neels Mostert - 2013-04-06 13:46

    Oh my word! It's probably apartheid's fault that the whites are prettier! Only pseudo communists (by the way, none of them has ever heard of Marx, Lenin or Stalin and have never read the communist manifest), can complain because nobody think they are pretty (or intelligent for that matter).

  • lydia.benkenstein - 2013-04-06 20:48

    Aagh man, all these guys are obsessed about, are their whatsisnames!!!

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