University of Pretoria backtracks on students' suspension over sexist posters

2017-06-08 20:06
(Wim Pretorius, News24)

(Wim Pretorius, News24)

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Pretoria – The University of Pretoria (UP) has not suspended male students who displayed posters with sexist slogans during a residence competition last month, despite originally saying that it had.

Originally, adviser to the Vice Chancellor and Principal Professor Tinyiko Maluleke said the university took a dim view of the incident that took place during a Serrie residence competition, where female students had to dance in front of a crowd and be judged by a panel and therefore took the option to suspend the male students pending the outcome of the investigation.

UP spokesperson Rikus Delport said Maluleke had unfortunately made a mistake in saying that the students involved in the Serrie incident were suspended.

“In fact the disciplinary process is not yet concluded and will only be finalised during the second semester,” said Delport.

The slogans included offensive and sexist remarks such as, "There’s better uses for that mouth".

The posters were meant to distract the dancers.

'Totally unacceptable'

Maluleke said at the time that it was totally unacceptable to put those statements on posters, which were held up by male students.

“We simply, as a university, reject those sentiments. It was totally out of place and in contradiction of the letter and the spirit of our policies of sexual harassment," he said.

There was social media outrage after images of the posters made their way to social media platforms, with some defending the students who were allegedly responsible.

Facebook user Elsje Nothnagel said, "Let's see, a 20-year-old something guy made a tongue-in-cheek joke at a cultural event as has been the tradition for many years. I think his future will be just fine."

Karishma Ramdev, referring to one of the students allegedly involved, said, "Maybe he must be evicted from res and banned from res activity."

'Policies to deal with sexual harassment'

Maluleke said the university had policies in place to deal with sexual harassment, gender based violence, homophobia and racial discrimination.

"The policies speak to the university's very strong conviction that there is no place for sexual harassment, gender based discrimination, racial discrimination in the university.

"Also from the side of the university, there is a keen awareness of the damage that these offences do to the dignity of the victims, not just their rights. We are going beyond mere rights awareness but also the dignity of people who are affected.

"We also know that this impacts very negatively on their academic project which is really the central project that the university is about."

Maluleke said in cases where there is a criminal element, the university will not hesitate to lay criminal charges against the perpetrators

Read more on:    university of pretoria  |  pretoria  |  education  |  gender rights

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