A sign at the entrance to the men's residences and Tuks Village in Hatfield. Jacques Naude African News Agency ANA

Pretoria - The plan to rename student residences at the University of Pretoria has had a mixed reaction from students.

While the majority seem to think it is a step in the right direction for transformation, others felt it was like history was being erased.

“What must change at the institution is the values and principles, not residence names. Is changing Boekenhout residence to House Tau supposed to give us some type of closure?” asked one student.

Some would have preferred to see names of Struggle heroes, but it is against university policy to name residences after people - as is the case at some other universities.

“Why change something that works?” asked another student, claiming it was a waste of money to have to rebrand the buildings “just to be politically correct”.

He said alumni would be unhappy as their history and memories were wiped out.

The university announced changes to eight men’s, eight women’s and three mixed residences this week. The names of 10 others remain unchanged.

University spokesperson Rikus Delport said the process started in September last year as part of a broader transformation project. Residence committees were given the chance to participate in March and make suggestions. The aim was to provide a more multilingual, multicultural and inclusive living environment for students. The process was iterative, consultative and inclusive, he said.

The vice-principal: residence affairs and accommodation, Professor Themba Mosia, also discussed the matter with the Student Representative Council and the Residence Advisory Board. “Once feedback had been received, Mosia consolidated the proposals and motivations in a single submission to the executive management of the university for consideration,” he said.

The UP currently has 29 residences for its undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as four privately owned leased residences. Most of their names are in Afrikaans, with men’s residences named after trees and women’s after flowers.

In some cases, the changes are minor such as Erika to Erica and Kollege to College. In others, the change is more significant, such as Boekenhout to House Tau, Olienhout to Tuks Ekhaya and Klaradyn to House Nala, for example.

Werner Beineke, AfriForum Youth UP branch spokesperson, has rejected the name changes.

Names that do not change are Asterhof, Madelief, Nerina, Zinnia, Xayata, Jakaranda, Hippokrates, Tuksdorp, Tuks Bophelong, and Tuks Village.

Pretoria News