“Language is never neutral”, says one of the 32 students interviewed in a new documentary by Contraband Cape Town entitled Lusiter, released last week Thursday 20th August. The documentary shares the testimony of the lived experiences of black students at Stellenbosch University and the culture of racism, discrimination, exclusion and violence that continues at Stellenbosch University 21 years after democracy.
The documentary was created in collaboration with Open Stellenbosch, the student and staff body lobbying for the eradication of the oppressive remnants of the apartheid legacy, with a redress of the university’s current language policy at the heart of their agenda. Open Stellenbosch notes that the first step to improving the experience and academic success of black students at Stellenbosch is to stop the academic exclusion due to the use of Afrikaans in lectures. The organisation states: “A complete change of the language policy is of utmost importance and we maintain the stance that no student should be forced to learn in Afrikaans.”
Open Source has issued a memorandum stating their concerns and outlining their requests – for a redress of the language policy, the re-establishment of The Centre for Diversity and Inclusivity, and the decolonisation of the current curricula in order to be more reflective and inclusive of all South African society. The university has threatened disciplinary hearings with possible suspensions and expulsions for Open Stellenbosch members (you can sign their petition on Change.org petition to support their cause). In response to the Luister documentary, the university has released this counter statement.
Follow the Open Stellenbosch movement on Facebook.
See more from Contraband, who are a media company that engages the social issues and interests of young people in the Western Cape.