RC Wilcocks building Picture: Stellenbosch University
RC Wilcocks building Picture: Stellenbosch University

RW Wilcocks’ name may fall at Stellenbosch University

By Lisa Isaacs Time of article published Jul 31, 2020

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Cape Town – Stellenbosch University (SU) has launched a process to rename the RW Wilcocks Building at the entrance to its campus.

Named after eugenicist RW Wilcocks, a scientist who supervised Hendrik Verwoerd’s doctoral thesis and was SU rector from 1935 to 1954, the building was opened in 1966.

During the #FeesMustFall protests, students informally renamed it the Lillian Ngoyi Building.

A call for proposals for a new name was sent to SU staff and students, as well as community structures represented on the SU Institutional Forum this week. The closing date for nominations is August 26.

“It is our fervent hope that the long-anticipated renaming process of this prominent building, which also marks the entrance to the Stellenbosch campus will allow for broad participation towards reflecting the journey of this institution and the surrounding community,” registrar Dr Ronel Retief said.

Visual Redress Committee chairperson Dr Leslie van Rooi said SU acknowledged the varied viewpoints and opinions about the current name, and could not ignore Wilcocks’ legacy, which was shrouded in controversy.

“(SU) also cannot ignore the pleas from successive Student Representative Councils and other student movement leaders, as well as staff, to change the name.”

Some name changes at the institution in recent years include the Coetzenburg Centre, previously the DF Malan Centre and the Adam Small Theatre Complex, formally the HB Thom Theatre.

All nominations must be signed by at least 10 staff members, students and/or members of the community structures represented on the Institutional Forum. Each nomination must also be accompanied by a motivation for the specific name. A shortlist will then be presented to the rectorate for consideration.

The rectorate will table the proposed name at the executive committee of council, which is responsible for the final approval.

The current name will be removed from the building over the next few weeks, and will be contextualised inside the building.

Completed nomination forms can be sent to [email protected]

Meanwhile, SU welcomed its first group of returning students to campus this week. Spokesperson Martin Viljoen said the group formed part of the 33% of students allowed to return to campus in accordance with the directions of the Department of Higher Education and Training.

The group includes students who still have to do compulsory academic work on campus in order to graduate or who require access to laboratories and technical equipment.

Cape Times

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