#RUReferenceList: Shutdown looms over rape
Cape Town - Students at Rhodes University (RU) are threatening a “partial academic shutdown” on Tuesday after a meeting with vice-chancellor Sizwe Mabizela on Monday afternoon failed to satisfy the students’ demands.
On Sunday evening, a group of students delivered a list of demands to the university’s management, accompanied by a list of 11 names they allege are guilty of rape and sexual assault. The list, called #RUReferenceList, quickly went viral and trended for most of on Monday morning.
Student Representative Council (SRC) member Naledi Mashishi delivered the list of demands to the university’s management.
It called for two university prosecutors to step down, citing the “manner in which they have dealt with victims in the past has been extremely callous”.
The students also called for a review of the university’s sexual assault policy and called for sensitivity training for all staff.
The group called for rape charges to be included in the alleged perpetrators’ academic records. A task team should also be appointed to deal specifically with cases of sexual assault and rape, the students said.
Last Wednesday, a Sexual Assault Response Team was established at UCT following another reported rape of a student.
In a statement, acting vice-chancellor Sandra Klopper confirmed that the female student had reported being raped at her residence by a visitor.
“Rape is unacceptable and criminal no matter where it happens. But it is particularly shocking that it has occurred in what should be a place of safety,” Klopper said.
Last week, students from the GenderAction Project at RU placed posters around the campus to highlight what it called “the rape culture”.
Named #Chapter212, the campaign refers to the South African constitution chapter regarding human safety and dignity.
UCT students followed suit, placing posters at Jameson Hall and various other campus buildings.
Rhodes’ SRC released a statement on Monday, expressing support for victims of rape and sexual assault.
The statement challenged the university’s management to “be active participants in the process of change the non-apathetic student body had initiated”.
While 11 names were on the list of alleged sexual offenders, police in Grahamstown said by on Monday only one case of sexual assault was recorded.
Police spokeswoman for the town, Captain Mali Govender said: “One case of sexual assault has been opened today (Monday) and we are encouraging other victims to also report cases.”
On Monday, student protesters disrupted classes in a bid to force a meeting with the university’s management.
Mitchell Parker, the editor of RU’s student publication, Activate, told the Cape Argus that some students occupied an administration building and disrupted lectures. RU’s spokeswoman Catherine Deiner said the university was responding to the list of demands. However, students vented their frustrations with the university’s response on social media.
The university issued a statement on Monday, saying a group of students had, on Sunday night, tried to find some of the people named on the list.
“A few students were held by the group. The vice-chancellor and director of student affairs tried to engage with the protesters at Cullen Bowles, Graham House and again at the Drama Department. The vice-chancellor engaged with students on Sunday night and during the early hours of on Monday morning instructing the protesting group to release the remaining student who was being held against the student’s will and indicated that they were breaking the law.
“At 8am on Monday, the police assisted in resolving the situation,” the statement read.
Govender said the student who had been held hostage had not laid a charge against the other students (hostage takers).
“No case was opened by the student. The situation is calm at the university. We are monitoring the situation,” Govender said.