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Stellenbosch University postpones its exams by a week after recent protests

Stellenbosch University students protested over an alleged racist incident at the Huis Marais student residence. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Stellenbosch University students protested over an alleged racist incident at the Huis Marais student residence. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 23, 2022

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Cape Town - Following last week’s anti-racism and gender-based violence protests, Stellenbosch University (SU) has postponed its exams.

Deputy vice-chancellor of Learning and Teaching Professor Deresh Ramjugernath said the decision to postpone the exams for a week followed an unprecedented, unified request from all student leadership structures, and was overwhelmingly supported by faculties.

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The exams were expected to commence today but were rescheduled to start on Monday, May 30. Assessments with deadlines for this week will be extended by one week, with the normal university schedule to resume after the exams.

The university has been shook by recent events, including two racially discriminatory incidents and an alleged rape that took place on its campus.

An 18-year-old SU student was arrested on Wednesday over the alleged rape of a 19-year-old student. It is alleged that the incident occurred at about 10.30pm on May 17 at a residence in Victoria Street, Stellenbosch.

SA Students Congress (Sasco) chairperson Queen Majikijela said the organisation was made aware of the rape allegations and condemned the incident.

“We feel that the rape incident should get the same energy that the racist incident is getting.”

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On Sunday last week, an inebriated white student, Theuns du Toit, was captured on video footage urinating in the dorm room and on the belongings of first-year student Babalo Ndwayana at the Huis Marais residence.

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Ndwayana has since opened cases of housebreaking, malicious damage to property and crimen injuria.

The university is also investigating another incident which occurred at the Law Dance on May 12, where racist remarks were allegedly made to a female student.

SU Student Representative Council (SRC) said the student body has made it clear that the only acceptable outcome for the overt demonstration of racism was expulsion.

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The university said an external independent Commission of Inquiry into racism and harassment would be established and headed by a respected judge. The university will also create a hotline for students and staff to report acts of discrimination such as racism, gender-based violence or the violation of human rights.

On the postponement, Ramjugernath said: “This decision is clearly unprecedented and was not taken lightly, but made in consultation and after careful deliberation.

“We finally came to the conclusion that it is in the best interest of our students to approach the exams in a calm frame of mind after the horrible events that disrupted normal campus life.”

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