News24

Integration taking time at UFS

2009-01-23 08:31

Bloemfontein - White students are still hesitant about living in traditionally black hostels at the University of the Free State (UFS), but meaningful progress with integration has been made.

Dr Ezekiel Moraka, vice-rector of Student Affairs at UFS, said the offer to live in traditionally black hostels had once again not really been taken up by white students.

Like last year, a minimum level for diversity was set for 2009. Moraka said 30% of first- and second-year students in hostels have to come from minorities.

"Although the target has largely been met in the traditionally white hostels, the target for the traditionally black hostels, men and women, has not quite been met. But there are interesting initiatives, like the Tswelopele hostel."

Nineteen white students moved into this hostel this year and were very positive about their new lodgings, he said.

Challenge

Moraka said the fact that the targets had not been met is a challenge that had to be faced. UFS was constantly exploring ways in which to address this challenge.

UFS spokesperson Lacea Loader said as the registration process had not yet been completed, specific numbers about who had moved in where were not yet available.

In 2007, former rector Professor Frederick Fourie, indicated that students would in future be allocated percentage-wise to traditionally black and white hostels to facilitate integration.

But the set targets were mostly not achieved last year, partly because students simply decided they did not want to live in mixed hostels.

Last year was a turbulent year for the university. Among other things, hostel residents caused R3m worth of damage to the campus in one night, the Reitz-video came to light, and Fourie resigned.

Khayalami, a traditionally black hostel on campus, is one of the hostels where problems persist.

Simphiwe Nkabimde, member of the house committee, said some of the white students that had to move in, simply never arrived. Others looked around, said they would return and never did.

'Time to get over the black-white divide'

However, one white first-year student moved into Khayalami and said he wasn't bothered by the problems with integration.

Charl Naudé, 20, from Newcastle, is now the only white student in Khayalami.

"It's really not a problem for me. In primary school and high school I already had many black friends.

"Everyone in the hostel is really pleasant. And they all agree that it's time to get over the black-white divide," he said before going back to building the float for Saturday's procession.