Carlo Petersen

RHODES University (RU)’s registrar has called on the campus community to suggest names of “eminent persons” to serve on a task team which will facilitate the process to possibly rename the 111-year-old institution.

Registrar Stephen Fourie made the invite after the RU council approved a plan to engage the greater Grahamstown community on the possibility of a name change for the university.

Council chairperson Vuyo Kahla said a two-stage process had started after demands were made by the Black Students Movement (BSM) earlier this year. The demands follow student protests at UCT, where a statue of Cecil John Rhodes was removed in April as part of a transformation campaign by student activist group Rhodes Must Fall.

“It is intended that the task team be composed of members of impeccable credentials, so that the outcome of the process can be beyond reproach.

“Council accepted the advice and further suggested that the task team not only investigate the matter of the future of the name of our university, but situate this matter in the broader context of transformation at Rhodes University,” Kahla said.

RU vice-chancellor Sizwe Mabizela told the council that he had received petitions in support of and against retaining the name of the university. other views received would be passed on to the task team for consideration.

“Recent developments on our campus do not constitute a crisis, but signal a need for us to act with a sense of purpose and urgency.

“It is within this same spirit that the council addresses these important matters with a commitment to transparency and keeping our various stakeholders updated,” Mabizela said.

A BSM statement reads: “The university known as Rhodes University is an exclusionary institution, were several disadvantaged students are struggling to identify themselves within the university without assimilating into the purple bubble that Rhodes University encourages.

“The BSM seeks to decolonise the institution in all avenues, including, but not limited to the name change, institutional culture and curriculum structure.”

Suggested names must be sent via e-mail to s.fourie@ ru.ac.za by 4pm today or suggestions can be delivered to the registrar’s office in the Eden Grove Building.

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