From the Editor-in_Chief: Transformation: where is the line of demarcation?

Carel Willemse 

I’ve worked closely with some of the students affected by the current controversial SRC situation playing out on our front page. The emotional impact on the democratically elected student leaders is just as prevalent on those who reluctantly needed to step up and fill the ex-officio positions to balance the quota set out in the Constitution for Student Governance. No one won.

There really isn’t much I can say that will change the situation at the moment. I’d rather focus on the evident transformation that has taken place in our student structures. Who would’ve thought that UP would need to dance to the tune of filling quota positions for white students? Through a democratic process, UP students have spoken, and the result was a completely different student leadership from previous years.

My participation in discussions on transformation of institutional culture has made it clear that a misconception existed on the approach to transformation, and that there really isn’t an engineered solution. Transformation needs to start from within, and being a part of this institution for as long as I have, it is evident that transformation has taken place on a big scale.

Through a natural process we are seeing representation, and in some cases over representation (is there such a thing?), of black students in all structures.

Superficial integration or posturing won’t lead to the types of change we wish to see in South Africa. I’ve always had a problem with surface level window dressing labeled as transformation. Don’t talk to me about renaming a building, it carries no value. But what we see in our committees through integration and the working together of different students is where the value of transformation lies.

What is interesting about the current situation, at least within the university context, is that the discussion on the demarcation line on transformation might have to become a reality.

I’d love to hear from you in this regard especially around two issues: Should quotas in favor of white students be in place at UP?

Have we reached a point where quotas at UP can be dropped completely?

In a discussion with a student at the helm of the new leadership I was surprised to hear support for the removal of the clause in the CSG speaking to quotas. What happens if next year’s SRC happens to be all male and all white? Would the same tune be sung?

What happened in the ex-officio portfolios was unfair and the only positive thing I can take from the whole debacle is that we sit with evidence of progress on transformation at UP. How we deal with this come 2018 elections is however a discussion that needs to start immediately. 

 

 

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