Stellenbosch University, along with North West University’s Potchefstroom campus, has been accused of failing to create a welcoming atmosphere for students of all social backgrounds and ethnicities. With the university’s Diversity Week just passed, RA’EESA PATHER asked Stellenbosch University students what they think of diversity on campus.
Pierre O’Callaghan, 18, student, Stellenbosch
I don’t thing there’s enough being done to promote diversity on campus, but it is diverse. I always had this image in my mind of Stellenbosch being all white, and it wasn’t like that. It’s not a fact that some people are there on bursaries or black empowerment, none of that is evident. They [black students] are there because they deserve to be there.
Afrikaans is popular here, but not popular enough. Every time I greet someone I have to say “How are you?” instead of “Hoe gaan dit?” so it’s quite English.
I’m studying engineering, and I thought it would be mostly white, but the engineering faculty is quite diverse; we have lecturers from everywhere, of all races.
Willicia Reed, 19, student, Stellenbosch
I think our campus is very diverse, even in the residences. It is mostly white, but it doesn’t really bother me. We’re past that stage where things like that matter so I don’t feel troubled by it. I’m Afrikaans and I think that Stellenbosch is mainly English now – even in the residences, the committees usually speak English – but it is an Afrikaans university. I want them to promote Afrikaans more. There aren’t many lecturers of colour. I have seven modules and all of my lecturers are white.
Jamelah Ndhlovhu, 19, student, Stellenbosch
I feel like there’s diversity but no inclusivity. There might be people of different races here but not everyone’s included, not everyone feels welcome here. Yesterday at student parliament, the SASCO representatives tried to voice their opinions but every time the speaker of student parliament threatened them with campus security. It’s really sad. It’s 2014, we’ve been in democracy for 20 years now, but we’re not seeing it here.
Most of the lecturers here are Afrikaans and white. I have one black lecturer but I don’t know what it’s like in other faculties. I don’t mind it, but sometimes they’ll divert to Afrikaans so half the time they’re speaking Afrikaans and they promised me I’ll have a degree being taught fully in English. Half the time I don’t get what my lecturer is saying, so I feel like it’s a waste of time, but the class is compulsory.
Kurt Gordon, 19, student, Stellenbosch
The diversity here is very rich, because you get a lot of different people. In my friend group there’s a lot of different people and unique personalities. I think the Afrikaans is fading out. It’s becoming more and more English. I’m fine with it; I speak both English and Afrikaans so it doesn’t bother me at all. I have quite a few black lecturers, but I also have my fair share of white lecturers, so I feel okay about it.
Masego Mkhari, 18, student, Stellenbosch
I wouldn’t say it’s so diverse because every racial group groups themselves together. You don’t find a lot of interracial relationships or friendships here. Sometimes you feel like an outcast, especially at residence when we have get-togethers. The Afrikaans isn’t such a big deal, when I came here I heard it was going to be all Afrikaans because it’s an Afrikaans campus but really, it has changed. The majority of the lecturers are white, I have about six modules and for the year I’ve just had one black lecturer.
* Voxes have been edited for brevity and clarity.
– Featured image via Wikimedia Commons