UNISA main campus. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency(ANA)
Pretoria - The student representative council (SRC) at Unisa has rejected the apology of lecturer Professor Tracey McKay, who has been accused of being racist.

The SRC wants her to tender her resignation, effective immediately.

McKay has landed in hot water after she tweeted that students on National Students Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) used their textbooks money on entertainment, nail polish, wigs and other non-essentials.

Her tweet was a response to that of Roman Cabanac, who asked how costs of books could be made cheaper when Nsfas gave students R5000 to spend on books.

McKay then wrote that before the cash payment, students would buy books and sell them immediately.

She said most of the students she taught were the kind who bought wigs.

She later apologised for her tweets, stating that her behaviour was inappropriate and a mistake.

However, Unisa SRC president Wadzanai Mazhetese said students were not impressed by her apology.

“We take serious offence to the remarks by the lecturer; it’s a clear racist statement which seeks in the main to undermine the poor and historically disadvantaged students.

“Our view is that she must resign with immediate effect.

“We reject the apology because it’s not only in bad faith but it’s also just self-serving.”

Unisa said McKay’s remarks were serious, offensive, inconsistent with the values and ethos of the university, contained racist undertones and might be in contravention of the institution’s policy.

The university also said it had taken serious cognisance of the outcry from the student community and other stakeholders that stringent measures needed to be taken by the university in the light of these remarks, and agreed that action commensurate with the seriousness of this misconduct was necessary.

Principal and vice-chancellor Professor Mandla Makhanya said: “When we dealt with the problem of racism within our institution last year together with the South African Human Rights Commission, we gave a commitment that we would confront and deal decisively with the spectre of racism whenever it rears its ugly head in our midst.

“Incidents of this nature should therefore be confronted head-on and with the necessary urgency to avoid the further polarisation of our society and to prevent damage to the reputation of our university.”

Makhanya said he had directed the relevant authorities within the university to ensure that urgent action was taken against the lecturer.

Pretoria News