Prof Mohamed Jeebhay
School of Public Health and Family Medicine
"The changing (albeit at a slow pace) demographic patterns in the undergraduate student population at UCT over the past decade has contributed towards the creation of a growing critical mass of black students who articulate an increasing sense of alienation, due to the pervasive Eurocentric institutional culture.
"From an institution that purports to be Africa's premier university, it is unacceptable to be oblivious to subtle, and in some cases not so subtle, forms of institutionalised racism under the guise of striving for academic excellence. The ongoing glorification of icons of white privilege, institutional culture, scholarly prowess, and 'philanthropic' gestures are all symbolised in the prominent display of the Rhodes statue on the main campus – this must end through the symbolic permanent removal of the statue off campus.
"At the same time the inadequate transformation in the postgraduate student population and staff composition over this period in the health sciences faculty, and I daresay in the university at large, has put into sharp focus the lack of urgency on this front. The continued erosion of funds that were historically earmarked for transformation purposes further illustrates the apathy towards effective transformational change.
"This has contributed to a paucity of credible role models for students, a lack of inclusive spaces that affirm identities and voices that have hitherto been silent, and insufficient reorientation of curricula and training that reflect an appreciation of the country's developmental needs.
"Upholding the dignity and cultivating respect for all students and staff alike in our daily relationships, and having a more deliberate effort to include black voices in a meaningful way that avoids feelings of being 'discriminated against', will contribute towards building a more humane and caring generation of South Africans. It is a long journey; but a journey we must all undertake, with uncompromising determination and haste, together."
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