Cape Town - Hundreds of Stellenbosch University students gathered in protest over an alleged racist incident at the Huis Marais student residence over the weekend.
Footage taken by the victim was widely shared on social media on Monday morning, immediately sparking outrage and condemnation showing a white student urinating in the dorm room of a black student.
The protest commenced and thereafter moved to the University Management building.
SU Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Learning and Teaching at Stellenbosch University Deresh Ramjugernath addressed the students and said he was appalled by the horrendous incident.
The alleged perpetrator has been suspended pending a formal disciplinary hearing.
In a statement released, the university condemned what it referred to as the “destructive”, “hurtful”, and “racist” incident as shown in the footage, which occurred in the early hours of Sunday morning.
A further swift but detailed investigation will determine the final outcomes, SU said, with expulsion and/or criminal charges not excluded from the possible available options, based on the investigation’s findings.
SU vice-chancellor Professor Wim de Villiers said the university is appalled by this type of behaviour, adding that such conduct would not be tolerated at the university.
“We acted swiftly and decisively to uphold our commitment to a culture inclusivity. What happened at Huis Marais is not acceptable. No student has the right to diminish another student’s human dignity or rights in this way.”
The Huis Marais residence management was made aware of the incident during the day on Sunday, whereafter, it was reported for urgent investigation.
The perpetrator student was removed and is no longer residing at Huis Marais residence.
Student Affairs senior director Dr Choice Makhetha said: “The student affected is clearly still in shock after his very upsetting and painful ordeal.
“He is still trying to process what happened and was offered counselling. He will be supported as and when required to ensure his academic progress is not affected by the incident.”
During an urgent house meeting on Sunday, the perpetrator apologised for the incident.
The Social Justice Agency Managing Director Edwin Cleophas said the residence was not new to controversy, with another issue related to racism involving the house.
“These hazing/discriminatory acts are very common at our universities. More often than not, students are afraid to speak out because of victimisation and the lopsided power imbalances due to economic power that exist between black and white students.
“The university has a zero tolerance for racism, and yet, when these incidents occur, we find that politics and economics ultimately decides the outcome.
“Important to that alumni and their support to the university comes with some significant power,” Cleophas said.
“Unfortunately, racism is seen as incidental instead of systemic and institutional.
“Therefore, the university and other institutions only act when there is an incident, when, in fact, they should be working on this systemic issue 12 months of the year if we are going to make any kind of impact.”