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Debates in Higher Education

UCT correspondence around #RhodesMustFall

Recent protest action on university campuses nationwide has drawn attention to critical issues affecting the higher education arena, and the country more broadly. What started in early 2015 at UCT with calls for the removal of the Rhodes statue has grown to include calls to end rising student fees, outsourcing of workers, police brutality and patriarchal practices on campus. Below is correspondence, stories and opinions connected to the calls for the removal of the Rhodes statue.


UCT Open Day
Photo by Je'nine May

Students in South Africa protest slow pace of change

UCT students

It was only when he landed at the University of Cape Town, a bastion of the fight against apartheid, that Ramabina Mahapa became truly conscious of his race, writes Norimitsu Onishi in The New York Times.

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'Queering the academy' – sexuality conference on campus

HAICU

What can be done to make South African tertiary education institutions more welcoming to LGBTQIA+ people? This was the question under discussion at the recent HAICU sexuality seminar, where students and academics from around the country gathered to discuss the intersection of issues around transformation and sexuality.

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How to transform the Humanities

Rhodes statue

Prompted in large part by the Rhodes Must Fall movement that sprang up in March this year, the Faculty of Humanities recently hosted a special assembly at which students and staff could formally air their views on transformation.

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'Diverse societies should not curtail free speech'

Kenan Malik

Free speech should not be suppressed in the name of tolerance or respect, said famous writer and commentator Kenan Malik at the 50th TB Davie Memorial Lecture on academic freedom.

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Discomfort needn't be a bad thing, says new transformation special advisor

Rhodes statue

The vice-chancellor's newly appointed special advisor on transformation, Assoc Prof Elelwani Ramugondo, speaks about the unavoidability – and value – of discomfort when it comes to transformation conversations.

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Answers to alumni FAQs re: Rhodes statue

Rhodes statue

Do you still have questions about UCT's decision-making process in the run-up to the removal of the Rhodes statue, and its response to recent protest action on campus? In this letter to UCT's alumni, Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price looks to address some of the main questions and concerns that have been articulated by former students.

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We're in a moment like 1976, says Soudien

Crain Soudien

UCT's responsibility as a post-apartheid university was guiding South African thought on whiteness, blackness, femininity, masculinity, violence, want, fracking, sustainable energy, spatial inequality, drug discovery and the rights of ordinary people living under the aegis of traditional law, argued Professor Crain Soudien at the June graduation ceremony for the Faculties of Health Sciences and Engineering & the Built Environment.

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Appointment of Special Advisor to the Vice-Chancellor on Transformation

Appointment of Special Advisor

In order to ensure the necessary executive focus on the transformation project over the next 12 months, I am appointing a Special Advisor to the Vice-Chancellor on Transformation, Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price has announced in his latest VC Desk.

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South African students must be given the chance to read what they like

Steve Biko

University curricula in South Africa are still largely European or American in origin and focus. In some spaces, though, academics are starting to shift the terrain by introducing an African-centred curriculum.

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Transformation: what's the past got to do with it?

How do we decolonise UCT?

UCT's Safety and Violence Initiative recently organised a public seminar, aimed at investigating the issues and dynamics that inform transformation debates on campus and in South Africa – and consider ways we can have more empowering conversations on transformation.

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UCT and Rhodes Must Fall sign agreement

UCT and Rhodes Must Fall sign agreement

UCT and the students who have been occupying Avenue House have signed an agreement that has been made an order of the High Court of South Africa, Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price announces in his latest VC Desk.

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How do we decolonise UCT?

How do we decolonise UCT?

Following the removal of the Rhodes statue, a great deal of debate on campus has been focused on decolonising the university. Various commentators (students, staff as well as academics from other institutions) have used a number of platforms to grapple with questions such as what decolonisation means for a university in Africa, and where the process must begin – or if it has already begun.

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Disrupting gender: 'decolonisation necessarily requires degendering'

UCT grants amnesty to protesters

The Trans Collective's first seminar, Disrupting Gender, asked how the physical and non-physical spaces of the university could be reconfigured to include all forms of gender variance expression.

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UCT grants amnesty to protesters

UCT grants amnesty to protesters

UCT has made an executive decision to grant an amnesty in respect of all protest-related incidents that occurred between the first protest on 9 March 2015 and 18 May 2015, Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price announces in his latest VC Desk.

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Journey of an African academic

Graduation Journey

On 15 May, a panel of African scholars gathered on the health sciences campus for a discussion on the experiences and challenges faced by academics from the continent. Panellists included Prof Kelly Chibale (H3-D, the Drug Discovery and Development Centre), Assoc Prof Heather Marco (Zoology) and Assoc Prof Collet Dandara (Human Genetics).

Watch the video...

On Rhodes, decolonisation and UCT management

Tim Crowe's letter

Emeritus Professor Tim Crowe responds to SRC President Ramabina Mahapa's letter to SRC Presidents and the South African Union of Students.

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TransformUCT: Drop punitive policy, give students space

TransformUCT: Drop punitive policy, give students space

The Black Academic Caucus, also known as TransformUCT, calls for the university to stop exercising punitive force against students and staff involved in the Rhodes Must Fall movement, and to provide a space where students in the movement can come together and debate transformation and decolonisation at – and of – UCT.

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Letter to SRC Presidents by Ramabina Mahapa (UCT SRC President)

Ramabina Mahapa

Blacks remain caged and tamed by endless laws and processes, for simply demanding a dignified and just existence, writes Ramabina Mahapa, President of UCT's Student Representative Council, in a letter to SRC Presidents and the South African Union of Students.

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Transforming UCT from the ground up

UCT fine arts master's student Sethembile Msezane performing during the removal of the Rhodes statue from upper campus. Photo by Roger Sedres.

GroundUp, a news reporting project that focuses mainly on stories relevant to social justice from South Africa's townships and immigrant communities, has been running a series of articles on transformation at UCT.

Part 1: An introduction to transformation at UCT
Part 2: Racial composition of UCT's student body
Part 3: Curriculum reform
Part 4: Racial composition of UCT's academic staff
Part 5: The role of financial aid and financial exclusions

(Photo caption: UCT fine arts master's student Sethembile Msezane performing during the removal of the Rhodes statue from upper campus. Photo by Roger Sedres.)


44 years of walking past CJR

Peter Buckton

Peter Buckton – who started working at UCT in 1971 as a cleaner, and has since been a lab assistant and a student of history before going on to become a senior sports administrator for Sports and Recreation – speaks to Abigail McDougall about what it means to walk past the statue of Cecil John Rhodes every work day for 44 years, and then, one day, for it to be gone. This article was originally published in Africa is a Country on 3 May 2015.

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One on one with Zine Magubane

Zine Magubane

Professor Zine Magubane, daughter of anti-apartheid struggle veteran and well-known academic, Professor Ben Magubane, shares her thoughts on transformation as well as plans for her six-month tenure at UCT.

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Announcing public consultation phase re: Rhodes statue

Publication consultation process

UCT is in the process of applying for the permanent removal of the Rhodes statue (following its temporary removal on 9 April 2015). This process includes an assessment of the statue's history, context and heritage significance, consideration of alternative options, and a public consultation process. As part of the public consultation phase, comments should be directed to rhodes.statue@chand.co.za.

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Rhodes Falls

Rhodes Falls Monday Monthly Edition

One month to the day after students publicly demonstrated their disgust at the legacy of Cecil John Rhodes – and the words "poo protest" hit the headlines – the statue of Rhodes on upper campus came down. Monday Monthly tracks the path to his unseating.

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Give us another space, says RMF

Rhodes Must Fall press conference

At a press conference on Jameson Plaza on 13 April, the Rhodes Must Fall movement made three demands: that the university provides a space to replace 'Azania House', that it does not prosecute or discipline students for inappropriate behaviour in the run up to the removal of the Rhodes statue on 9 April, and that it continue removing "imperialist, patriarchal and colonial" symbols and statues.

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TransformUCT: 'The future is watching'

The Future is Watching

TransformUCT – a group of black academics committed to transformation at the university – appeals for earnest engagement around transformation.

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Rhodes Must Fall press conference
Photo by Michael Hammond

Transformation: Vibrant student spaces needed

Vibrant student spaces needed

In the aftermath of the Rhodes statue's removal comes a signed statement expressing concern regarding UCT management's recent response to the Rhodes Must Fall student campaign and calling for more spaces in which students can talk and reflect on transformation transparently.

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From the VC: Urgent update on the Rhodes statue and Bremner occupation

Urgent update on the Rhodes statue and Bremner occupation

Vice–Chancellor Dr Max Price updates the campus community on urgent steps to be taken following the removal of the Rhodes statue.

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Rhodes goes quietly amid jubilation

Rhodes goes quietly amid jubilation

The removal of the Rhodes statue from its dominant perch overlooking the Cape Flats was met with songs and celebration. It seemed afterwards that campus exhaled.

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UCT's Rhodes statue to be removed at 17h00 today

UCT's Rhodes statue to be removed at 17h00 today

The Cecil John Rhodes statue on the University of Cape Town's Upper Campus will be removed at 17h00 today, following a decision by the UCT Council at a special sitting held on 8 April 2015.

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An end to assimilation, the right to self–determination

Ramabina Mahapa

The following SRC statement was delivered at the UCT Association of Black Alumni discussion on transformation on 8 April 2015.

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SRC welcomes Council's decision to remove the Rhodes statue

SRC welcomes Council's decision to remove the Rhodes statue

SRC President Ramabina Mahapa speaks at the special Council sitting on 8 April 2015 to decide on the fate of the statue of Cecil John Rhodes.

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UCT Council votes in favour of removing Rhodes statue

UCT Council votes in favour of removing Rhodes statue

Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, chairperson of UCT's Council, issued the following statement regarding the status of the Rhodes statue, following a special sitting of Council on 8 April 2015.

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UCT and Heritage Western Cape's joint statement on the temporary removal of the Rhodes statue from upper campus

UCT and Heritage Western Cape's joint statement on the temporary removal of the Rhodes statue from upper campus

UCT and Heritage Western Cape's joint statement on the temporary removal of the Rhodes statue from upper campus.

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Faster, more decisive transformation needed – Rod Solomons

Faster, more decisive transformation needed – Rod Solomons

UCT must move faster and more decisively to thoroughly transform the institution Advocate Rod Solomons (pictured left), national vice–president of the UCT Association of Black Alumni (UCTABA), said at a panel discussion the association hosted in the Kramer Building last night.

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Convocation debates Rhodes and transformation

Convocation debates Rhodes and transformation

President of Convocation Professor Barney Pityana (pictured left) remarked that transformation couldn't merely be a buzz word and that it should, in fact, be the "life blood" of the country and university.

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Rhodes Statue
Photo by Michael Hammond

UCT Convocation expresses views on Rhodes statue's future and broader transformation issues

UCT Convocation expresses views on Rhodes statue's future and broader transformation issues

UCT's Convocation, the body of the university's graduates, gathered for a special general meeting on 7 April 2015. The purpose was to allow its members to express their opinions on the future of the Cecil John Rhodes statue on UCT's upper campus, as well as on broader transformation issues.

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Opinion Piece: Professor Jeremy Seekings and Nicoli Nattrass

Rhodes protest

Professor Jeremy Seekings, director of UCT's Centre for Social Science Research (CSSR) and Nicoli Nattrass, a professor based in the CSSR, weigh in on the Rhodes debate and caution readers about the politics of pain. Their opinion piece first appeared on the GroundUp website on 31 March 2015.

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Leslie Bank debates the future of UCT's Rhodes statue

Leslie Bank debates the future of UCT's Rhodes statue

Director and professor of the Fort Hare Institute of Social and Economic Research, Leslie Bank, debates the future of UCT's Rhodes statue and reviews broader transformation issues in Higher Education.

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UCT Association of Black Alumni (UCTABA) view on Rhodes statue

UCT Association of Black Alumni (UCTABA) view on Rhodes statue

The Western Cape chapter of the UCT Association of Black Alumni share the organisation's view on the Rhodes statue and invite alumni and other key stakeholders to a public event on 7 April 2015 to discuss ways of ensuring deeper transformation at the university.

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UCT Academics Union statement on #rhodesmustfall

UCT Academics Union statement on #rhodesmustfall

The UCT Academic Union supports the call to remove the Rhodes statue and commit to finding solutions to transformation-related issues.

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Response to Sunday Independent article: 'Adebajo distorts Price's view on Rhodes'

Max Price

The article "Why Price is wrong over Rhodes" by Adekeye Adebajo in Sunday Independent on 29 March 2015 demands a response. Adebajo succeeds in completely distorting the view I hold on Rhodes.

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Rhodes: Views from a black associate professor at UCT

Rhodes: Views from a black associate professor at UCT

UCT must continue to prioritise the employment of black South Africans and come up with a firm implementation policy, says Assoc Prof Caroline Ncube, head of UCT's Department of Commercial Law. This article first appeared in the Mail & Guardian on 30 March 2015.

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The Rhodes debate: Dead men walking

The Rhodes debate: Dead men walking

Take UCT students, their stories and their concerns, seriously, says Assoc Prof Xolela Mangcu – they're both early warnings of, and the antidote to, racial war. This article appeared in the City Press on 29 March 2015

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The Rhodes debate: How we can have the last laugh

Albie Sachs

Instead of extinguishing the man, we should keep him alive on campus and force him to witness our constitutional democracy, writes Albie Sachs.

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From the VC's Desk: Update on Rhodes statue and occupation of Bremner Building

VC Desk

Herewith an update on the matter of the Rhodes statue and the occupation of the Bremner building by protesting students.

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Podcast: The Khonza Show

Rhodes protest

27 March CliffCentral Podcast: When bad guys do good things! What do we do about it and how do we treat their legacies? CliffCentral's Andrew Levy invites representatives from the ANC, DA and UCT to debate the issue of #RhodesMustFall.

Listen to podcast...

UCT Senate vote in favour of moving Rhodes statue

Rhodes protest

The University of Cape Town Senate has voted overwhelmingly in favour of recommending to Council that the statue of Cecil Rhodes be moved when Council holds its special sitting on Wednesday 8 April 2015.

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UCT protest is not about Cecil

Zetu Makamandela-Mguqulwa

UCT Ombud Zetu Makamandela-Mguqulwa speaks of the transformative opportunity that the #RhodesMustFall campaign presents.

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South Africa's odious monument to Cecil John Rhodes

Eusebius McKaiser

For two decades, many South Africans assumed that our university campuses had become politically apathetic. But this may be the year that South Africa's students wake up from a deep sleep, refreshed and determined to demand transformation of their educational institutions, Eusebius McKaiser writes in The New York Times.

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Decolonising institutions, organisations, and minds

Angelo Fick

Those who know the past in textured detail, not just in sweeping generalisations or in the sanitising and glorifying terms of jingoism (whether imperialist or nationalist) which enable and encourage reinvention and mis-memory, are better equipped to imagine the future in novel ways which neither repeat nor reinstate the past or its exigencies, writes Angelo Fick in an opinion piece for eNCA.

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Rhodes Statue We Matter: Many of the students attending the University Assembly in a jam-packed Jameson Hall on Wednesday night, 25 March 2015, wore tape over their mouths. The hot topics of discussion included equity, institutional culture and racism, curricula, higher education, and colonialism. (Photos by Je'nine May)

University Assembly

UCT: An ode to Rhodes

Rhoda Kadalie

If we're going to remove the Rhodes statue, why not reject all of Rhodes' inheritance. There are always positives and negatives to a heritage, but why don't we just demolish the whole damn thing, writes Rhoda Kadalie in an opinion piece for Politicsweb.

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'History changes over time – nobody owns it'

Rhodes

We need to come to terms with our history, to understand the contribution of those who made their mark on society – often in a complex and contradictory way, writes Ghaleb Cachalia in a letter to UCT's Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price.

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Cry for transformation rings out at packed assembly

Student Assembly

Heritage, signs and symbolism were superceded by the harder issues synonymous with transformation at Wednesday night's University Assembly in a jam-packed Jameson Hall. These were equity, institutional culture and racism, curricula, higher education, and colonialism.

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Daily Vox hangout with Dr Max Price


Danger of 'rationalist conceit'

Danger of 'rationalist conceit'

Assoc Prof Xolela Mangcu asks the academy to listen to student voices and transform a potentially volatile moment in history into a creative one. This article appeared in the Cape Times on 25 March 2015.

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The Rhodes to introspection

Rhodes protest

The #RhodesMustFall campaign provides an opportunity to interrogate how South Africa should be dealing with its colonial and apartheid past, argues Pierre de Vos, who holds the Claude Leon Foundation Chair in Constitutional Governance at UCT. This article first appeared in the Daily Maverick on 25 March 2015.

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Rhodes, Rancière and the politics of aesthetics

Rhodes protest

Jaco Barnard–Naude revisits the politics of aesthetics to review the events surround the Rhodes statue protests. This article first appeared in the Mail & Guardian on 24 March 2015.

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Black academics support #RhodesMustFall campaign

Rhodes protest

TransformUCT, a grouping of black academics from different departments and faculties at UCT, stands in solidarity with students in the #RhodesMustFall campaign and the removal of the statue.

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From the VC's Desk: Progress in discussing the removal of Rhodes statue

VC Desk

The proposal that the statue of Rhodes be removed from its current location has been supported by the Senior Leadership Group (SLG) of UCT, namely the deans, the Executive Directors, the Deputy Vice-Chancellors and the Directors of Institutional Planning and the Transformation Office, UCT's Vice Chancellor Dr Max Price has said in a letter to the UCT community.

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Podcast: The Daily Maverick Show

CliffCentral

24 March CliffCentral Podcast: Together with Daily Maverick assistant editor Ranjeni Munusamy and talk show host Gushwell Brooks, CliffCentral's Kingsley Kipury touches on three contentious topics – firstly "Rhodes must fall", secondly Chabane's passing and thirdly the Hawks judgement.

Listen to podcast...

Racism at Rhodes, Cecil's statue at UCT

VC Desk

I completed my undergraduate studies at Rhodes University five years ago, before I transferred to University of Cape Town to pursue my Honours degree in Information Systems. I must admit, I owe these two institutions prodigious gratitude but the recent developments leave me disappointed, writes Phumlani M UMajozi.

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The big racial divide: Rhodes statue

Rhodes protest

Noluvuyo Mpekelana, an information systems student at UCT and founder of Inside Out Mentors, a non-profit organisation dedicated to educating young girls and encouraging them to have an entrepreneurial mindset, speaks up about how she's experienced the last two weeks' worth of debate and protest on campus.

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Until the lion has its own storyteller

Rhodes Memorial lion

Russell Ally, executive director of the Department of Alumni and Development and a UCT alumnus, puts the current #RhodesMustFall debate on campus in context: highlighting how critical this robust debate is in shaping students' understanding of their place in the world, how history is currently being written, and a shared future being built.

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Students continue peaceful occupation of Bremner

Bremner Protest

A small group of students remained in the Bremner Building on Monday morning, continuing Friday afternoon's peaceful protest and subsequent occupation of the Archie Mafeje Room in the building.

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Must Rhodes fall?

Have your say

A fourth-year UCT student recently penned an open letter to the SRC, UCT and its students. Here is an excerpt.

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Assoc Prof Xolela Mangcu argues that UCT student protesters have shattered the myth that 'race doesn't matter'

Assoc Prof Xolela Mangcu argues that UCT student protesters have shattered the myth that 'race doesn't matter'.

Assoc Prof Xolela Mangcu argues that UCT student protesters have shattered the myth that 'race doesn't matter'. His article appeared in the Sunday Times on 22 March 2015.

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UCT Student Parliament's statement on Rhodes statue

Student Parliament

It is deeply problematic that when individuals criticise white supremacy they are accused of discriminating against white people and being 'racist'. All systems of oppression must be eradicated, UCT's Student Parliament said in a statement.

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Price applauds students for bringing transformation issues into focus

Bremner Protest

UCT plans to make a day available to hold discussions on campus about the controversial statue of Cecil John Rhodes on upper campus, Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price told protesters on Friday 20 March.

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UCT alumnus Jonathan Shapiro (aka cartoonist Zapiro) draws lessons of Rhodes' legacy

Zapiro

Rhodes Statue
Photo by Michael Hammond

UCT response to posting of swastika photos on Jameson Hall

UCT

The University of Cape Town urges all students and staff to respect one another and exercise care in their manner of expression. We condemn any action where people are intimidated and urge all to be sensitive to other people's views.

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Transform UCT: It's about more than race

Rainbow UCT

Transformation goes beyond issues of race. This is the message a group of student organisations wants to bring home with a series of events. The first of these is a fun day on Saturday 21 March 2015.

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Rhodes: The unresolved question of symbolic justice

Jonathan Jansen

The timid responses of university managers and governors to these troubled monuments simply stoke the fires of discontent, writes University of the Free State Vice-Chancellor Professor Jonathan Jansen.

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Reflections on Rhodes: A story of time

Rhodes Viewpoints

The statue of Cecil John Rhodes overlooking UCT has been at the heart of heated debates on transformation. In his introduction to Viewpoints, published in November 2013, former Vice-Chancellor and Emeritus Professor Njabulo Ndebele writes of the vexed legacy Rhodes left UCT.

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Academics Union Executive Statement on Rhodes

Rhodes statue

We appreciate the expressions of alienation articulated by student representatives and recognise the importance of the sentiments that have motivated the campaign and the wider issue. However, as academics, we also believe that contentious issues are best dealt with through reasoned debate, the Academics Union Executive has said in a statement.

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Open letter from former SRC presidents: 'Rhodes must fall'

Rhodes must fall

Nine former presidents of the Student Representative Council (SRC) support the widespread call for the immediate removal of the statue of Cecil John Rhodes situated on UCT's upper campus.

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UCT's elephant in the room: #RhodesMustFall

Rhodes

Chevening scholar and UCT fine arts alumnus Wandile Goozen Kasibe comments on the Rhodes debate.

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Legacy of Rhodes is not black and white

Trudi Makhaya

The call to have Rhodes's statue removed from the University of Cape Town (UCT) forces a confrontation, once again, with how modern SA memorialises those who have shaped it with the blunt tools of domination, writes economist and Rhodes scholar Trudi Makhaya in Business Day.

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From the VC's Desk

VC Desk

On Wednesday 18 March 2015, UCT's Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price sent out a letter to the UCT community to discuss the university's position regarding the Rhodes statue protests and transformation.

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Whose heritage are we preserving?

VC Desk

At a transformation seminar planned for Monday 16 March 2015, focused on symbolism, heritage and signage, SRC President Ramabina Mahapa gave the following address before leading a student walk-out.

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Climate of trust needed for transformation

Heritage Debate

New and creative ways are needed to engage students and build a climate of trust before transformation can be discussed and debated on campus. This sentiment was expressed after the first in a series of transformation seminars stalled following a student walkout.

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'The Rhodes statue must fall': UCT's radical rebirth

Rhodes Protest

The controversial actions of a UCT student to protest the continued display of a statue of Cecil John Rhodes through dousing it in human waste evoked an outpouring of support from fellow students. Their collective response reveals much about opposition, resistance and transformation in the South African academy.

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White students: Why we need to think deeper and do better

Jessica Breakey

It has been an incredibly emotional week for students at the University of Cape Town. I have been turned inside out as I have watched and engaged with my fellow students around issues of transformation, race and Rhodes, writes UCT student Jessica Breakey.

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What students think of the UCT poo protest

Rhodes Protest

Poo protester Chumani Maxwele, SRC president Ramabina Mahapa, and other students told The Daily Vox's Ra'eesa Pather what they make of the protest.

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Forced removal: Time to claim new space by removing Rhodes statue

Andrew Gasnolar

The year 1994 was a watershed moment, a moment where millions were for the first time citizens in the country of their birth, a country that had enforced a systematic approach of making black South Africans less and depriving them of their citizenship, writes Andrew Ihsaan Gasnolar in the Daily Maverick.

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Students campaign for Rhodes statue removal

Rhodes Protest

The statue of Cecil John Rhodes overlooking the UCT rugby fields must go, say students. UCT's Student Representative Council (SRC) is planning various protest action unless a date is set for its removal.

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Statement by Students' Representative Council

UCT campus

Contrary to what has been reported in the media, neither the SRC nor any SRC members were involved in organising the protest. Furthermore, no SRC members threw any substance at the Rhodes statue, SRC President Ramabina Mahapa said in a statement released on 11 March 2015.

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Rhodes Falls/Transformation Edition