Is UCT Racist?

07 May 2012

There was passionate argument, mirth and even some tears at the 3rd Annual Open Forum, held on the evening of 18 April, as UCT students and staff debated whether UCT is racist or not. Organised by student group Conscious Conversations, in conjunction with the Students' Representative Council and the Transformation Services Office, and facilitated by the Process Work Institute, the debate followed on from the prominent Twitter debate titled #CapeTownIsRacist - for the purposes of the forum, zeroing in on UCT.

Billed as a forum for students and staff to express even the most contentious of opinions without fear of victimisation (or being 'named and shamed'), it saw a host of experiences and views come to light.

Some argued that the race question is irrelevant in a democratic South Africa. Others countered by relating experiences of racial discrimination at UCT, arguing that the legacy of colonialism and apartheid still has tangible effects on society (including UCT).

One respondent described racist attitudes held by a student friend, and concluded: "Is UCT racist? Institutionally, it's debatable. On a peer level, it exists."

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