Editorial: UCT report is old news

In 2016 the University of Cape Town agreed to establish an Institutional Reconciliation and Transformation Commission as protest action intensified in higher education institutions across the country. It was tasked with, among other things, looking into institutional culture and practices, unjust discrimination, sexual violence and other issues the university community might raise or have been raising for years.

Its final 81-page report, released late last month, was scathing, illustrating a racist institution that does not take the struggle of black students seriously. Students erected a shack in one of the busiest parts of the campus to highlight accommodation issues. This protest — known as #Shackville — is one of many examples cited of the university ignoring students. The report also had strong words for the university for failing to listen to the plight of students and offering little support when it comes to mental health challenges. Students spoke of having been under immense academic pressure with little support, resulting in several deaths by suicide, and others struggling with suicidal thoughts.

The institutional racism isn’t reserved for students, according to the report. Black academics not only experience structural discrimination but also have to deal with subtle racism from their white colleagues.

The fact that the university embarked on this exercise can be somewhat lauded, and could be seen as an attempt by the university to address the issues facing its community.

But the report hasn’t highlighted anything new. These are issues that heads of departments have been briefed on. If there is one thing the report reveals it’s that executives have not been listening to their community. It would be disingenuous to act surprised when such facts are presented to them.

Make sense of your world

Subscribe to Mail & Guardian at R10/mth for the first three months. Cancel anytime.

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Solidarity vs University of Free State in vaccine mandate court...

The union wants the court to decide whether the policy of enforcing vaccinations at UFS holds water.

Informal waste collection shouldn’t let plastic polluters off the hook

The image of plastic recycling as the solution to plastic pollution is perpetuated by statistics that highlight successes, which are communicated in tonnes and percentages that are difficult to visualise.

Millions of rand lost as SANDF returns unauthorised Cuban Covid-19...

Remedial action against officials suspected of wrongdoing must be taken, says the ministerial task team investigating the defence department

New year, same rules: The science behind masks, ventilation and...

Wearing a mask, washing your hands, good ventilation and keeping your distance all help to lower your chances of getting infected by the virus that causes Covid-19

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…