Perdebate: Is res culture still relevant?

The res traditions of orientation, Serrie, RAG and Insync have, for a long time, formed part of the core of the university’s routine. However, along with the current talks of transformation, the pertinence of res culture has come under fire and these “traditions” have been called into question. Due to the differing opinions on campus, Perdeby asked students if they think that res culture is still relevant today.

 

Keitumetse Sepeng (BAdmin- International Relations)
Res culture is quite relevant today because it allows for individuals of different backgrounds to come together and create memories together, and to have fun outside of academics at the university. Res culture is not exactly as popular as it used to be back then due to certain restrictions and certain cancellations of many res culture affiliated events, but it is certainly present.

 

Jennifer Barrett (BA Speech-Language Pathology)
I think res culture needs a revamp. When I looked at my grandmother’s res pictures and newspaper cut-outs, a lot of the res culture is virtually unchanged. My grandmother was in res in 1960, when UP was all white. They engaged in RAG, Serrie and many other res events that still happen today. From her descriptions, res initiation has also not changed much at all. I think that res activities need to be changed to fit the times and be more culturally relevant. Maybe the people in res need to be consulted about what changes they would like to see, instead of every res falling back on outdated traditions. I can see how these traditions frustrate my friends in res. It’s time for a little change.

 

Tyla Groenewald (BA Languages)
I [definitely] think it’s still relevant because it’s all part of that “uni experience”. People who don’t agree or don’t want to partake in the traditions must not live in res then. The res’ must keep their culture for those who want to experience it and for the history of that res itself. It’s the perfect way to make friends as everyone had that one thing in common. Plus, it gives you some of the funniest memories you’ll carry with [you] for life.

 

Patrick Wiggett (BCom Accounting Science)
Res culture, as we know it with its associated ideologies and activities, is in large part irrelevant to the modern world. In a quickly developing and shifting society, little effort has been made for res culture to adapt to [changing times]. The past few years’ publications of res culture have been largely negative, and in a way, that denotes certain people based on language, race or gender. I am not saying the idea of res culture is irrelevant today, merely the current culture we have become accustomed to.

 

Milton Mojapelo (BA Law)
To be a black person in this institution comes with a lot of things, predominantly psychological. One would argue a psychological attack on you as a black person has been normalised. Res as a structure finds its genesis and mandate in an Afrikaner dispensation. Because of that, their culture is naturally segregatory and also oppressive, be it subtle or bluntly. It is similar to a culture that would try to assimilate a student to an Afrikaner or English identity. From that we see there is a lack of social transformation in the university. Due to this, it creates an environment where people feel like they need to reinvent themselves in order to study at a university. Traditions like Serrie are also problematic because they create an environment whereby males feel that they can call women derogatory terms and insult women through the incitement of sexual intentions. In this way, Res is not only anti-black, it is also anti-women when evaluated sufficiently.

Why must I subscribe to these things if I am in a space that emphasises freedom? I am not saying “do away with your white culture”, because there has to be a sense of diversity, as it is not enforced that anyone subscribe to black culture. It is merely a must that the inclusion of African norms and customs be integrated into res culture.

 

Jason Penny (BSc Computer Science)
In my opinion, from what I’ve heard, the res culture is very [insistent on] occupants taking part in the events and the culture itself. It’s very easy for people to say “well, if you don’t like it, go somewhere else”. Now the problem is what if your home was in India or Zimbabwe, and the res you chose is dependent on your bursary? There is no “somewhere else”. Now your only choice is to live with something you hate, and this could impact your studies, and in the worst-case scenario, your future. For what exactly? Obviously, that’s the worst possible case, but it’s possible.

 

Andrea Yazbek (BCom Human Resources Management)
In the business context, aspects like innovation, change, and transformation play an integral role. However, when it comes to the transformation of culture, we often replace “transform”, which means to change, with “do away”. We, as students, are so quick to throw away the old and innovate the new, that we don’t take the heart with which cultural foundations were set, into account. When a building is being renovated or a new level is added, you don’t have to dig out and replace the foundation every time.

I believe that res culture lays a foundation which we can build on. Two years ago, Tuks Camerata identified a need for transformation. We had a birthday and celebration song that was developed many years ago and thus, held great value, but was not inclusive to all choristers as it was Afrikaans, and we are a multi-cultural choir. We decided to “transform” the birthday song and kept the melody as our cultural foundation but changed the wording to cover 3 languages. I believe that we should not do away with history, because then we can’t look back on the progress we have made. Our minds are set on transformation. So let us transform

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