Stellenbosch University management was this week called before parliament’s portfolio committee on higher education and training to answer for racism claims made against the university in a documentary called Luister. While the university’s Vice Chancellor, Wim De Villiers, was defending his university in parliament, some students were marching against the university’s language policy which they say is racist and exclusionary. We were there to speak to the marchers:
“I don’t agree with Stellenbosch’s language policy. It only accommodates certain people and excludes the rest.”
“You can’t advantage one language over another. It’s one thing to socialise in Afrikaans but it’s not fair to make it the main academic language. Diversity’s all we’re asking for. There’s no respect for our languages as things stands.”
“My brother’s application was rejected because he hadn’t studied Afrikaans in high school. I think it’s apartheid-like for Stellenbosch University to favour Afrikaans so strongly in 2015. The sad thing is the university’s leadership says they are transforming, but they aren’t. Transformation isn’t a reality here.”
“I think every class has to be taught in English. Some people here just have an irrational fear of what would happen if things were to change here. It borders on sociopathic.”
“I find the language policy unconstitutional and exclusionary. As things stand, it feels like a sad repetition of 1976 – students marching against Afrikaans as a medium of instruction.”
“Lectures should be offered in a variety of languages, English is not enough. We need to decolonise this university.”
Photography by Bulumko Gana.
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