Reitz finally closes its doors

2008-07-30 20:04

Bloemfontein - The Reitz men's residence at the University of the Free State (UFS) closed its doors on Wednesday as a result of a racist video, filmed by residents, that surfaced at the university earlier this year.

UFS spokesperson Lacea Loader confirmed that the last of the students staying at Reitz were vacating the hostel premises.

"Although the hostel was closed on July 20, the residents were given a chance to vacate the premises up and until today (July 30), the last day of the second exam opportunity."

The UFS was at the centre of a racial storm in February this year after the video, made by former Reitz residents, sparked a national and international outcry.

The video featured black university employees on their knees eating food which apparently had been urinated upon by a white student.

Alternative accommodation

It depicted a mock initiation of five black staff into hostel activities and referred openly to the university's integration policy for campus residences announced in 2007 and implemented this year.

Loader said a committee was appointed to help the 118 Reitz students with alternative accommodation.

"Most students who indicated they needed aid with alternative accommodation were helped.

"They were accommodated in other residences on campus or in student houses near the campus."

The decision to close the hostel was taken in May after input from various role players.

Acting rector Professor Teuns Verschoor announced that the hostel would be changed into an institute for diversity.

Inputs being awaited

Loader said the university management was busy with preparations for establishing the institute.

She said detailed planning and development would be done after inputs from the campus community and local and international experts.

Verschoor said no decision on the name of the institute or its focus areas had been taken.

"This would be decided when we get input from all role players," said Verschoor.