BY BRYNLEY VAN AARDT
WILGENHOF Men’s Residence has recently come under fire after an incident labelled as homophobic took place in the form of a post on social media.
Wilgenhof’s newcomers Instagram page, @die_jarr, posted a picture of a Stellenbosch student in their story and the caption, “When you want to take our O-week away because you were accidentally put in a male res in your first year”.
The student in the photo, who has asked to stay anonymous, said, “The matter concerning the image is considered as an expression of intolerance of gender parity, posted on the Wilgenhof Instagram page in response to recommendations to suspend certain unwelcoming practices as recommended and executed by the appropriate institutional authority.”
Anti-GBV SU posted on their Facebook page in reply to the incident and said, “Members of Wilgenhof Residence have posted a homophobic image of a queer leader on campus. We were made aware of this and would like to refer Wilgenhof and the community to their signed memorandum and response. If they fail to resolve this matter, we will intervene.”
In this memorandum, signed in 2019, Wilgenhof stated that “Wilgenhof is an inclusive place for all” and that if anyone found guilty of going against such inclusivity, they “will not oppose the suspension or expulsion” of the resident.
“Due to the nature of social media and the anonymity it facilitates, the individual(s) has not been identified, especially as this page was not an official social media page administered by Wilgenhof. What also increases the difficulty of finding the individual(s) in question is that the login details of the page were open for general access in the bio of the page, meaning that anyone could have gained the ability to post. Furthermore, no preventative action could be taken as the leadership had not been aware of the existence of the page until after the incident had already occurred,” GC van Heerden, Wilgenhof Prim, said. Van Heerden said he was not aware the page even existed until he was notified of the post by Wilgenhof’s current ResEd coordinator.
“The first-year group was addressed, and it was emphasized how unacceptable such behaviour is. This was followed by the leadership and the residential head addressing the entire House. Correspondence was released notifying the cluster leadership of the situation and our stance,” Van Heerden said.
An engagement regarding the incident and how this pertains to gender identity and sexuality was held last week at Wilgenhof. This session was facilitated by their current Cluster Assistant, Tendani Tshauambea, accompanied by a representative of QueerUS.
“I was given a brief to have an information session engagement. I had an engagement around homophobia and LGBT+ awareness. It took the format of a quiz with a subsequent discussion which followed on the questions we dealt with in the quiz.
“I was contacted by Wilgenhof after their [House Committee] had a meeting about the incident and one of them recommended me as a facilitator,” said Tshauambea.
The SU Equality Unit has been made aware of the incident and is now pending investigation.