With Stellenbosch University’s decision to restrict the use of a minority’s mother tongue, one wonders what the next freedom to be prohibited or restricted will be. I mean, the only way to become more inclusive is by prohibiting more things, this is simply logical, isn’t it? The prohibition in effect applies also between students who share the same mother tongue. With all the ideological training (propaganda may be a more accurate term) offered by the University, major restrictions are imposed on what one may think, and now also on the language one may use for communication, even outside academic spaces.
This is a very interesting time where the question arises: “What will happen to me (or my child) if they should have a ‘wrong’ idea and use the wrong language to ask for the salt at a residence dining table?”
Recent events may be summed up in one word: fascism, the autocratic control of an environment and information as well as the restriction of ideas that are not in accordance with those of the institution or group. The fact that the female residence student said they were living in fear, once again brings 1930s vibes to the fore. SU, who at the time of writing of this article has not denied the incident or promised to investigate it, once again is demonstrating its double standards. If the situation was the other way around, Wim would have been on his knees in the streets offering apologies on behalf of SU, as in the case of #FeesMustFall some time ago.
From a legal perspective I would like to quote paragraphs 6.3, 6.5 and 7.2.5 of SU’s latest language policy: (Find the document here: http://www.sun.ac.za/english/Documents/Language/Finale%20Junie%20Taalbeleid%20November%202016.pdf.)
6.3 SU respects the languages used by students and staff and acknowledges their language preferences and levels of language proficiency.
6.5 SU applies its chosen languages in such a way that it includes all students, staff and other stakeholders.
7.2.5 In residences and other living environments, language is used in such a way that, where reasonably practicable, no stakeholder is excluded from participating in any formal activities in these environments.
If SU doesn’t stick to its own rules, why should students? Are some more equal than others? And what about integrity, or has this concept been transformed out by this progressive academic institution?
Since 2015, AfriForum Youth has been fighting for one major objective, that SU should stick to its own rules and apply them equally among students. Yet, after six years this still is not the case: do watch the short interview conducted in 2015 in connection with the same challenge at Maties: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oo-8FNKA27g.
If you want more information or if you want to get involved in AfriForum Youth’s tertiary or town structures, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, with the name of your campus, town or city in the subject line. Let us work together in promoting equality among people and groups instead of fostering hatred as many institutions are now doing for political gain. Let being young be enjoyed by all!