Suspension lifted for Maties students for alleged ‘blackface’ incident

2016-02-12 19:47
Stellenbosch University. (Photo: Stellenbosch University)

Stellenbosch University. (Photo: Stellenbosch University)

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Last blackface "should have been a wake-up"

2016-02-10 07:29

Mienke Steytler of the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) says a 2014 incident of blackface at Stellenbosch University "should have been a wake-up call" on racial sensitivity. She likened incidents of blackface to hate speech on a wall at Wits University.WATCH

Cape Town – The suspension of two Stellenbosch University students who were involved in an alleged “blackface” incident has been lifted, the institution said on Friday.

“The temporary suspension of two female students from the Heemstede Residence of Stellenbosch University involved in an alleged 'blackface' incident on February 4 has been lifted,” it said.

The university said the decision was taken on the recommendation of the Equality Unit following an extensive investigation into the incident.

University management said it accepted the unit's recommendation on Thursday afternoon and instructed that the students should be invited to return to the residence concerned. 

“The two students have already been welcomed back into the residence last night and one of them was reinstated in her role as mentor,” the university said.

Vice-Chancellor Wim de Villiers said it was clear the students did not have  the intention, direct or indirect, to cause offence or harm to any student or staff member.

“There was a perception, enhanced by the impact of social media, that this was a blackface incident. This is, however, not the case.

“Management regrets the trauma that the two students, the house committee, the residence head and the residents of Heemstede experienced,” he said. 

De Villiers said even though he was satisfied that the correct procedures were followed, he realised that this had been a difficult time for the two students in question.

“The university will continue to support them as they are reintegrated into their residence."

The students caused controversy on social media after posting a picture of themselves in what appeared at the time to be dark paint, possibly brown or black, and were subsequently accused of donning "blackfaces".

Following the fallout, the students were suspended from their residence and an investigation was launched by the university.

One of the students took to social media to apologise for any offence the picture had caused, but emphasised that the pair had been dressed up as purple aliens for a space-themed residence party.

Read more on:    stellenbosch university  |  cape town

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