A screenshot of a recent notification sent out by Dr Tom Angier of the philosophy department read: “Owing to the unusual term structure this year, there is a clash between the second test on October 6 and Rocking the Daisies.
"If you can supply evidence of having booked the festival well in advance, you will be excused attendance at the test and your other coursework will count more towards your final result. You must bring such evidence to Philosophy reception and fill out the usual forms.”
The Black Academic Caucus (BAC) labelled this a “flagrant abuse of the concession system”. It said in a statement: “A legitimate concession works with the understanding that a student has suffered a setback in their life that compromises the student in relation to his or her peers.
"A concession that is underserved only serves to grant an advantage to the student.”
The group cited an incident where a black student in the same department last year was refused her duly performed (DP), despite presenting evidence of a debilitating medical condition.
“The same department now has compassion for students who bought tickets to attend a music festival in Darling.
“It’s not enough black students have to silently carry the burden of disadvantage; they now have to watch as racialised privilege is paraded before them,” BAC said.
UCT vice-chancellor Max Price had subsequently decided on compassionate grounds to grant the black student a DP.:
UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said: “We have taken note of the BAC statement and the UCT executive is in broad agreement that the decision in this case to grant a concession should be reviewed.”
The university is also planning to develop a set of criteria to guide course conveners across all faculties when considering concessions to ensure a degree of fairness, consistency and equity.
Moholola added all departments in the Faculty of Humanities granted extensions or concessions to students not able to attend classes or write tests for valid reasons.
“There has to be sensitivity to every individual’s particular situation and cultural, socio-economical and other pressures that influence the situation. Concessions should be given in serious cases, not for frivolous reasons,” he said.
Student activist Simon Rakei said the executive only responded and intervened in issues raised on public platforms and “the granting of concessions is (inconsistent and) ... at the whim and discretion of course conveners.
"Given the staff demographic at the university, many exempt-worthy cases were denied concessions because the conveners in question did not appreciate the context relevant to mostly black students.”