UCT's new policy will disadvantage the Black middle class.

2014-07-16 10:47

As a media student at the University of Cape Town I decided to create online blog platforms that would help better my writing skills. With a political consciousness my blogs were to be about my experience at university and South African politics.

I never had problems with my political blogs, no one in the ANC or DA as I always blog about them came to me and tried to silence me but the university which prides itself about being a champion of freedom of speech did, on several occasions.

Being a student at UCT exposes you to a wide range of experiences, most of which are good but predominantly negative.

Whenever I wrote about the negative, UCT’s marketing department would call me in their offices and tell me to pull down certain parts of my online blogs, because they were not good for the university's image. Don't talk much about UCT race relations, don't complain about high fees online or anything that they deem negative.

I stopped blogging about UCT because I wanted to graduate and didn't want to be taken to what we called "UCT court" and most probably face academic exclusion.

Your socio-economic status will confront you before you attend your first class at UCT, I wanted to blog about it, but I couldn't.

Not only students group themselves according to their class and race groups but the university also does in a very salient manner.

At UCT you have faculties which are dominated by a certain race groups.

You also have residences that are white dominated and few blacks that are as well-off like the whites students in those residences (the old Residences such as Smuts, Fuller, University House and others).

And then you have residences  dominated by black students who are on financial aid (Liesbic, Forrest Hill and well, Obz).

This I presumed it is intentionally done to create a kind of alumni that will be of benefit financially to the university later.

And most probably it’s done because the parents of those students have a say in them securing placements in residences they were previously at during their time at UCT.

Not only do these parents have influence in what kind of residence they want their kids to place in, but they have influence in more important issues like university policies.

UCT has changed its admission policy from a race-based policy to a class based one. This according to the university is done because there are more ways to measure disadvantaged.

The university will now treat race and disadvantaged differently requiring new applicants to prove if their parents and grandparents have been to university; if parents receive state grant and some other very confusing indicators.

The new admission policy will further benefit this much advantaged group to the detriment of a disadvantaged black people, especially the black middle class.

The new policy assumes if you are black and there is no one receiving a state grant in your family and your parents have been to university you are not disadvantaged.

The assumption is that if you are a middle-class black you are new kind of black, which is well off like whites who have always been having it. Allow me to LOL

This logic ignores centuries of exclusion of black people from not only higher education but education in general and signals a wave of changes in admission policies across all previously white universities. UCT has done it, and it looks like they will get away with it.

Treating race differently to disadvantaged in South Africa is ignorant and serves only the race blind group who form the pool of the influential UCT alumni which has always complained about a race-based policy.

As we stand, UCT only has 22% South African black students and it is worrying to see them changing an admission policy that has been working, though slow, on transforming UCT to be a university that is not only for whites.

All South African Universities have not transformed. University such as Walter Sisulu University, Fort Hare University, University of Western Cape and many others which were created for blacks only by the apartheid government are still blacks only 20 years into the new democratic South Africa.

Universities which were created for whites only are still dominantly white, no change has happened.

And it looks like councils in the previously white universities have no interest in changing that rather are threatened by attempts made by government to transform not only these universities but also the ones that were created for only blacks.

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