Students at the University of Witwatersrand’s medical school have accused the school of failing black students and accepting bribes to pass certain white students. The students are accusing the school’s dean, professor Martin Veller, of being racist and failing students who have spoken against him.
The Black Health Professionals Association (BHPA), a campaign that raises awareness on the struggles of black students in the medical field, told The Daily Vox that student activists were being marked down as a way to prevent any sort of disruption on campuses.
“Racism at the medical school is historic. Students’ marks are being deliberately changed because the university knows that they are activists, and speak up against certain issues, so to silence them they bring down their marks,” a member of the campaign said.
Another member of the BHPA said that the Integrated Primary Care Block (a care course part of the Clinical Sciences course) failed only black students this year. The member said that a white student who had failed was allowed to rewrite her exams and not the rest of the other students. “She got a special exam and tutorials, just for her, two days before graduation and she graduated,” she said. The member also said the university refused to allow for the black students who failed to view their exam scripts. “The university said the reason why they didn’t allow the students who failed to view their scripts was because they didn’t want to compromise the integrity of the rubric,” she said. “Students were also told by the dean to change their attitude or they will not survive at this place,” she added.
This is not the first time students have complained about racism and discrimination at the university’s medical school. In 2015, black students said they were allegedly subjected to discrimination and racism.
On Twitter, the university’s vice chancellor, Adam Habib disputed the claims made under the #WitsMedSchoolIsRacist hashtag, calling them as fake news.
I can guarantee you that this is nonsense. It’s ‘fake news’ probagated by individuals with agendas of division and destruction. Ignore!
— Adam Habib (@AdHabb) November 27, 2017
— Bonga (@BongaBotha) November 27, 2017
People are shook, and rightly so…
Today we’ve only mentioned the issues of sixth years, 1/6 of the MBBCh degree at Wits.
— Nontsokolo (@DimplySiya) November 27, 2017
University spokesperson, Buhle Zuma, said that the students who failed, failed because they had not performed well academically. “These (small) groups suggest that they are being failed simply because they are black, without presenting any evidence to support their assertions,” she said. Zuma said that the university had instituted a three-month inquiry to look into claims of racism made by the students and “no charge of racism could be upheld.” The university said assessments and exams were externally marked and examination papers were also anonymous, containing only student numbers.
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