World Watch

06 October 2003
Tension between rival student organisations at the Peninsula Technikon over alleged vote rigging during student representative council elections has reached boiling point, with one group threatening to disrupt classes if the election was not declared invalid. The SA Students Congress (SASCO) has claimed voter irregularity, ballot tampering and intimidation, following its loss to the Pan-African Student Movement of Azania (PASMA) last week. Spokesperson Lionel Adendorf said SASCO had discovered, among other irregularities, that an election official had allegedly voted on behalf of about 100 students. Election officials were students chosen by the SRC.

A panel investigating residence and campus culture at Stellenbosch University said some traditions at the university are at odds with the wider South African reality of change. The panel said some practices that had been allowed to continue were not in line with human rights and the Constitution. The panel's report said: "Recent incidents are proof of a mind-set and value system that are in conflict with basic human rights and that exceed all boundaries of reasonable behaviour. Group pressures in residences often led to the rights of minorities not being adequately protected, as well as cases of victimisation and 'marginal figures being granted very little space'. Residence and campus culture at the university urgently had to be placed on a new footing to prevent future student problems."

Students and management of Wits Technikon have reached agreement on access to hostels and other issues, their mediator has said. Visitors, irrespective of gender or status, would be allowed into the residences, subject to conditions, but no visitors would be allowed after 23h00. In August, students protested against limited access to hostels, causing "extensive" damage on campus. Management suspended classes on the Auckland Park and Doornfontein campuses. About 370 students were arrested and had to pay fines of R100 in admission of guilt before being released. The students were angry apparently because access by visitors to residences was to be limited and they had not been consulted.

In Thailand, Bangkok University administrators have devised what they hope is an inspired solution to frequent violations of the institution's dress code. They are offering jewellery as prizes for modest dress. The university has begun this campaign to encourage its women students to dress in a way that avoids displays of skin, which officials say is inappropriate and not conducive to a learning environment.

In China, a Beijing court has ordered the New Oriental School, the country's most famous test-preparation centre, to pay the Educational Testing Service and the Graduate Management Admission Council $1.21-million for using test questions that had been stolen from American companies, local newspapers have reported. The two companies sued the New Oriental School in 2001, accusing it of selling pirated copies of copyrighted tests and of hiring bogus test takers to sit for examinations solely to memorise questions, which would later be used at the centre. Some of the test questions were accessible on the school's website, the official Xinhua news agency reported. Doing well in the examinations is crucial for Chinese students who hope to win admission to American universities.

Sources: Independent Online,, The Chronicle for Higher Education

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