In light of Dagbreek’s recent Inkululeko launch on campus, it is safe to say that the issues raised by activists, student leaders and academics on campus from 2016 and 2017 have been disregarded and/or forgotten on this campus, and we are back to square one with a new group of students on campus who are raising the same, painful issues.
Leading up to the Dagbreek event, the organisers placed white A4 pieces of paper on the ground around campus with questions regarding the existence of white privilege and rape culture, issues which have been proven to exist through obvious investigation, research and a majority consensus back in 2017 on our campus.
Despite this, it would seem that Dagbreek’s delay in critical engagement and social consciousness has resulted in their residence reviving these conversations, which perhaps, in their view, was with good intention and had the aim of opening critical debates.
However, the reality is that it has caused much pain by reviving trauma amongst students who were involved in movements such as #FeesMustFall, #EndRapeCulture and MenAreTrash, who felt as though their efforts to achieve equality and emancipation were rejected by a residence who had actively excluded themselves from conversations in the past.
Now we are stuck between a rock and a hard place, with students from the 2016/2017 era reliving the trauma of hardships they encountered when they were involved in movements, campaigns, protests and discussions about social injustices such as gender inequality, racism, white supremacy and misogyny. It could be argued that these ‘constructive conversations’ may regress the university’s ongoing process of transformation.
In addition to this, there is a potential legal issue regarding Big Daddy Liberty and Dagbreek’s use of video footage. They expected students to step forward at the event to ‘engage’ on issues and these students would be recorded. The question would be whether students consented to being recorded for Liberty’s Youtube channel and Dagbreek’s social media or not.
If not, they may encounter problems from students who feel uncomfortable to be included in video footage on politically biased platforms. Another area, which will need to be discussed separately, is the Inkululeko booklets, both the first and second versions, which disregard both the lived experiences of marginalised groups and the acknowledgement of marginalised groups’ emotions which is an understandable and empathetic component of people’s views.
Instead, the booklets clearly aim to tone police marginalised groups in conversations, an action which has been used for years by people in positions in power and privilege to suppress the marginalised. It is clear that the older generation students who made resolutions on social issues are being forgotten, and unfortunately, there has been a ‘traffic jam’ for transformation on our campus.
Whether Dagbreek intended to be genuine in engaging with students or not, they have also revived anguish and disdain from groups and individuals on campus.
*Luke Waltham is an activist, Blogger and Writer for HuffPost, News24 and Medium. He is also the Chairperson of the United Nations Association of South Africa, Stellenbosch Chapter.