‘Slap on the wrist’ for UCT cyberbully

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iol scitech sep 13 uct campus INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Other students, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the university was being far too lenient and trying to sweep the matter under the rug. Photo: Ross Jansen

Cape Town - It was the side of UCT “they didn’t want you to see”. A blog set up to bully students and pit people against each other.

But a year since the website divided the student body at the Cape Town campus, the person behind it has finally been disciplined.

University spokeswoman Riana Geldenhuys said: “The University of Cape Town’s student disciplinary tribunal recently dealt with a case involving allegations of a form of cyberbullying. The student pleaded guilty to charges and has been sanctioned.”

As part of this sanction the student must submit a reflective essay “detailing the consequences and effect of the student’s actions on others”. Geldenhuys did not say what else, if anything, would form part of the sanction.

But for students who contacted the Cape Argus, this is not enough. They claim the people mentioned on the blog are still being bullied and suffering with psychological issues, while the blogger walked away with nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

Posts on the blog, which emerged in September, ranged from teasing a student about her fashion sense and weight, to “uncovering” another student’s alleged racist conversation on Facebook.

“When your GPA (grade point average) is the same number as your age, you know you are screwed,” wrote the blogger underneath an image of what appeared to be a struggling student’s grades.

Reactions to the blog were mixed. Some found humour in its posts, while many others were outraged.

“Things like UCT Exposed make me not want to answer the question, ‘which university do you go to’,” wrote a user on Twitter.

The blog spawned an investigation under the moniker of “UCT exposed, exposed”, spearheaded by a group of students and ex-students who claimed they uncovered the person behind the blog.

The ACDP lashed out at the blog, warning it had the potential to do a lot of harm.

Throughout September the blog was shut down, only to be resurrected.

The blogger teased users on Twitter, writing: “Here at UCT Exposed we say: if you don’t like it, don’t read it! #dontletthedoorhityouonthewayout.”

The blogger’s guilty plea has been welcomed by some.

But other students, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the university was being far too lenient and trying to sweep the matter under the rug.

UCT has referred these students to Steven Ganger, the officer who investigated the case of cyberbullying.

“If they are having problems they should make use of the correct channels.”

The university’s student representative council said it would meet on Thursday where the matter would be up for discussion.

At this stage the blog has been shut down.

[email protected]

Cape Argus

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