Gizellede Götz & Ingrid Heÿdenrÿch

A manipulated photo of Stellenbosch University’s (SU) website did the rounds on WhatsApp groups and social media on 22 February. The picture showed the heading of an article that was published on SU’s  website, but with altered text instead of the original article.

The manipulated text read: “Stellenbosch’s Transformation Office has recently launched a campaign to convert several of the current men’s residences to mixed gender residences. This follows the University’s official announcement that they will be starting to change the way people live and interact in Stellenbosch. After several weeks of hard debating and arguing, bordering on lawsuits, we are happy to announce that the plans for the conversion of Simonsberg, Eendrag, Helshoogte andDagbreek to mixed gender residences are in place. Work will begin on Simonsberg at the end of the first semester, with work on Dagbreek already starting early in April. More
news will soon follow this article as it becomes available, but for now this is all we have for you. To find out more,
please go to the Contact Us area and we will assist in any way we can – The Transformation Office.”

Martin Viljoen, SU spokesperson, said that this was not official communication from SU.

“Initially it was suspected that a hack took place, but after further investigation it was clear that the article was never changed online,” Viljoen said. “An alternative is that someone created a page that looked like the original article, but with false wording. It is this ‘article’ that was spread online and on social media.”

Monica du Toit, head of the Transformation Office, also confirmed that they released no such communication and that no such plans exist currently. Du Toit said that the office does not have the authority to make decisions like this in the first place.

“We do have a lot of conversations about gender and the communities we want to form, but we do not determine what happens in residences.”

She said that the Transformation Office is not part of any campaign to create mixed gendered residences.