Cape Town - The renaming of the Smuts Hall residence marks a new era and indicates how far the institution has come since #RhodesMustFall, the University of Cape Town says
The UCT council approved the name change at its meeting on Saturday, June 19.
The council deliberated and approved a recommendation of the Naming of Buildings Committee to change the name of Smuts Hall, the student residence on the upper campus.
The council’s decision takes immediate effect in that the name “Smuts Hall” will be removed from the residence. The name “Upper Campus Residence” will be used until the process of determining a new name is concluded.
UCT council chairperson Babalwa Ngonyama said: “The utter pain and anguish at the time of the decision to remove the Rhodes statue from campus was significant.
“And yet, we have, as a campus, moved closer to a community that can speak with one another, can acknowledge the complexities of the past but honour its gifts, can engage each other to come to new names of campus spaces that we feel is more representative of our current values and who we are as an inclusive collective.
“While we have varied perspectives and diverse backgrounds and opinions, we are able to see and collectively forge a more inclusive future and shared identity.”
The council’s decision would allow UCT to move on from the past while continuing to recognise the significance of its legacy. There were many creative possibilities for reimagining the UCT campus in ways that would build inclusivity and look to the future.
“Over the coming months, UCT will be holding discussions across the campus community about the new name for the Upper Campus Residence, as well as for other buildings,” Ngonyama said.
“The changing of names should not be seen as merely replacing what we do not like with what we feel resonates well with us or what we feel we relate better to.
“It should go beyond the view that the name we are changing is a source of discomfort or pain for those advocating for change.
“Nor should it be viewed as an act of diminishing, discarding or deviating from history by those who would wish that the status quo should remain.”
She said it should be seen as an opportunity for the UCT community to forge a new path together, towards creating an environment of inclusivity and shared identity on campus.
“An environment where all members of the campus community feel represented by, and can reflect on and relate to the buildings, spaces and symbols on campus.
“Collectively, we can all help in efforts to continue creating an environment on our campus that is increasingly inclusive and reflective of the growing diversity in our campus community.”