What to do with Reitz hostel?

The University of the Free State (UFS) on Monday asked for proposals on the future of its Reitz men’s residence from various affected parties.

UFS spokesperson Anton Fisher said the university management indicated that these proposals should reach it by April 14.

Those who are considered “directly affected” by a possible decision on Reitz’s closure are students currently residing in Reitz, the parents of those students, and recent staff of Reitz, the university said in a statement.

“These persons, as well as the ‘Nasionale Unie van Oud-Reitzmanne’ [National Union of Former Reitz Men], are invited to make proposals by way of written submissions on the basis of the above-mentioned before or on April 14 2008,“said Fisher.

A racist video surfaced at the institution last month, made by former students living in the Reitz hostel. The video, which has sparked a national outcry, features black university employees on their knees eating food that had apparently been urinated on by a white student.

It depicts a mock initiation of five black staff members into hostel activities and refers openly to the university’s integration policy for campus residences announced last year.

Fisher said in terms of a recent council resolution, the UFS management’s decision on Reitz might include the possible closure of the residence and its conversion into either a new residence or accommodation facility or a different type of facility for use by the university.

“The guideline by council was that it should become a beacon of transformation, hope and liberation,” he said.

He said the management will take various issues into consideration while studying the future of the hostel. These include the necessity of using the residence for other needs, the promotion of transformation and diversity in residences and on the campus, and the educational and career interests of future residents.

Others issues are safety and security on campus and the effective functioning and strategic objectives of the UFS.

Fisher said the university’s cooperation with other universities, organisations, experts and strategic partnerships with the business sector will also be considered.

“No such decision would be taken before the persons who would be affected directly by such a decision have been afforded a reasonable opportunity to make submissions and proposals for consideration by the management,” he said.—Sapa

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