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With two new political societies on campus that have opposing views, Stellenbosch University (SU) has become slightly more decorated with various posters put up by both Progress SA and Students for a Democratic Society.

Paul Joubert, a founding member of Students for a Democratic Society who put up the second set of posters, said, “We didn’t react per poster because that’s adding to the yelling match. We just restated positions in a way that is very moderate and granted there are a few posters that we couldn’t really resist being a bit spicy but mostly we tried to reiterate positions that are very moderate.”

Tariq Khan from Progress SA said the posters by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) responds to a “distorted and false” version of the arguments put forward by Progress. “It’s both manipulative and misleading to students. As usual the left finds itself showcasing its obsession with intellectual dishonesty,” said Khan.

Progress held their first event last Monday, inviting Gwen Ngwenya to give a talk about South Africa’s prospects without BEE and Affirmative Action which saw both students and lecturers turning up to listen to what she had to say. The event covered various racial stigmas in South Africa and was followed by a Q&A session afterwards. Tami Jackson, a co-founder, said that this is just the first of many events.

On the other hand, SDS is planning their first “unofficial” event for the next term which will most likely be a discussion on either, “something Progress SA has provoked or whatever is relevant at the time,” said Joubert. Their official opening event will, however, only be in the new year once they have been officially registered as a society at Stellenbosch University.

“It’s weird what is going on around campus and what it really is, is two groups who want to work to a better future and don’t know how to get there. I’m not defending Progress or attacking SDS, but if they’re calling for the censorship of people’s opinions because they aren’t as liberal as theirs then they’re just as bad as the people they are against,” said Vehan Landman, a second year BA(PPE) student and ex-DASO SU executive member.

Confidence Moseki, the SASCO SU secretary, said, “We go by the values of non-racialism, non-sexism and the society we envisage is one where everyone has a voice. It goes over our heads as SASCO that the university has given Progress the platform to express hateful comments that are undoing the work of actors who have tried to bring transformation on our campus. While we can champion freedom of speech because it is a democratic right, freedom of speech ends where hate speech begins.”

Both political societies are currently in the process of becoming registered as official societies of Stellenbosch University, however, this needs to go through student court first.

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