#sexistSA: What universities don’t tell you during O-Week

Orientation is the most exciting and daunting experience for any first-year student. During orientation week, universities usually try to warn students about some of the challenges of first year – exam anxiety, stressing over funding, partying too much and binge drinking. But seldom spoken of is the rush of horny male students looking to hook up with naive first years. PONTSHO PILANE asked female students at Wits University whether they’d felt targeted by older students when they were first years.

Anele NzimandeAnele Nzimande, 22, Braamfontein
Senior male students prey on first-year students because they’re unchartered territory. They are able to make new discoveries that no other man before them has, and basically just imprint themselves on unsuspecting first years. All I know is that those intentions are never good-hearted and that is where the problem lies. When I was in first year I was too naive to see it, but the more senior I became, the more my eyes opened. The higher you go as a female student, the less interest you get from your male counterparts because you’re not as naive. This happens everywhere, even in student politics – I am evaluated first and foremost as a woman, instead of as a person.

Boitumelo PitseBoitumelo Pitse, 25, Parktown
I don’t know whether male seniors are fond of first-year girls because they are easily persuaded into sex but the relentless pursuit of them is there. I come from a small town and lived a sheltered life, but I remember senior students approaching me and offering to tutor me, show me around or walk me home from the library. As a medical student, I got to experience “first year” twice – first on main campus and then, when I got to second year, I had to move to medical school. When I got there, the final-year medics saw us as new blood. They would spot my friend and I in the library and offer to help us. They would then suggest we exchange numbers so if we ever “needed help” we could call them. Now, as a senior student, I see it happen to the younger students. I think we should mentor them and raise awareness on the issue so that it can be reduced.

Precious NtsandeniPrecious Ntsandeni, 21, Pretoria
Senior students target first-year girls because they know that they do not know about them and their reputations. The guys that do this are usually players and going after first years is easier [for them] because the girls don’t know what their true intentions are. When I was in first year, the senior students used to make passes at us. It was flattering because you think “Oh, senior men are picking me over our own senior ladies,” but most of them are just trying to get you into bed. One time I was on a bus to campus from res and a senior student blatantly told me he wanted to have sex with me. I was floored, and I couldn’t believe he was not even ashamed to admit it. Senior men know that first-year girls are vulnerable and that’s how they get their way with first years.

Nondumiso MakhobaNdumiso Makhoba, 21, Braamfontein
Senior guys always prey on first year girls. The amount of attention you get from male students on campus decreases the longer you are here and that’s because they know that the older we get, the more we are aware of their intentions. You become less attractive to them and first years are just fresh meat they can get into bed. The difficult part is when you try warning the first years and they think you are jealous of the male attention they are getting. They think we see them as threats. We don’t: we are just more informed now that we have been here longer. This sort of thing happens mostly in residences because first years are easily identifiable during O-Week, which is when most of the senior guys choose their targets. You can ask any res student and they will tell you that this happens every single year.

Boitshoko LetlhooBoitshoko Letlhoo, 20, Braamfontein
I have been staying at res since my first year and from day one the senior ladies on our house committee used to tell us that we must stay away from senior men. They warned us that the senior men will ask us to come chill when we should be focusing on our schoolwork. They told us they would delay us. I don’t remember being preyed on or senior students pursuing me in that way. Perhaps it is because I didn’t allow a lot of guys into my space. I kept on looking back on my house committee’s words; I didn’t want a guy to be the reason I didn’t do well at school, so I was very cautious. I think the only way to prevent this is to make the first years aware of the situation and hopefully they will see that to most senior men they are just a piece of meat. I am thankful we were warned during O-Week and I hope all the other residences do the same.

– Voxes have been edited for brevity and clarity.
– Featured image: Via Wikimedia Commons.