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SU Convocation: Dispute or Highjacking (ChatGPT Translation of the below Afrikaans Article)

Please note that this is a Chat GPT translation of the below Afrikaans article and as such it is a very direct translation.


If you, like most rational people, don't necessarily read the Rapport, you might not be aware of the "dispute" within the US convocation. If you do read the Rapport, you're definitely aware of the "dispute," but while you probably hear the bell ringing, you apparently don't know where the bell hangs. It seems that neither the Rapport, nor Jan Heunis and his supporters, know where the bell hangs.


There is no dispute within the convocation - there is a convocation, and there is a hijacked executive board driving a neo-apartheid agenda. This type of confusion is one that I frequently observe among first-year law students when they answer their first tutorial. While their argument is splendid, the question asked what colour the sky is. They explained why the grass is green. For clarity on the matter, the following:


The Heunis faction employs an age-old argumentation technique in the legal profession. The tactic works as follows: create your own narrative, cause as much confusion as possible by listing irrelevant provisions in legislation to support this narrative, and argue the narrative with the confidence of a used car salesman. When anyone opposes your narrative, you ridicule them by attacking their appearance, gender, age, language proficiency, race, or culture. In this case, the chosen narrative is the erasure of Afrikaans by a "lady who only wants to speak English" and her politician friend who wants the Convocation President-portfolio for himself. This narrative is packaged in short videos that are circulated on Facebook and WhatsApp to incite the Class of 1963. However, this tactic speaks of a lack of intelligence, ethics, and childishness that is difficult to associate with a senior advocate and his highly educated supporters.


The Convocation members and the movement that rose up against the executive board are not unhappy because action is being taken against nepotistic behaviour. On the contrary, SUNewConvoRise agrees with Heunis and his team that if the Rector has engaged in unethical behavior, it is in the interest of the University of Stellenbosch that he should step down. Our unhappiness stems from the fact that the management, under the leadership of President Heunis, with the exception of Rudi Buys, saw fit to act as prosecutor and even judge without following the process outlined in the University's policy. They also did not deem it necessary to wait for the findings of a formal investigation process; they found the Rector guilty based on media articles and hearsay. I would have thought that a fellow legal scholar would know that someone is presumed innocent until proven guilty, but perhaps that assumption was not part of the apartheid curriculum.


Their justification is that because the Convocation President is democratically elected, he has the authority to act on behalf of the Convocation without any oversight, even when such actions contradict the interests of the University. This is a highly ironic argument, given that it is the exact argument followed by the apartheid government. One would think that the son of a former apartheid minister would not repeat his father's party's mistakes. What does the proverb say about a donkey that hits its head twice?


SUNewConvoRise's further grievance against the current executive board is that their agenda for removing De Villiers has little to do with alleged nepotism and much more to do with their own political agenda. Some members of the board, including Heunis and Van Dyk, make no secret of actively opposing transformation. Therefore, they agree that they do not want to make Stellenbosch University an inclusive space for all South Africans but rather feel that exclusivity based on race, language, and culture should also be the institution's future. It is therefore not surprising that the dubious nepotism scandal broke just a mere week after Stellenbosch University announced its plans to adjust the residence policy according to the ratio of female to male students. It is even less surprising when we recall Heunis's resignation letter from 2019 and Van Dyk's tribute to him that followed. Their message appears to be clear: we see no problem with the past and would like the future to look the same. Their supporters don't refer to themselves as the "last line of defense" for nothing.


Defense against what, I ask you? Defense against inclusivity? Defense against relevance? Defense against improvement? Defense against justice? At this stage, they are indeed the last line of defense. The last remnants of South Africa's unequal past and the last obstacles that my generation still cannot remove from our path. However, I have news for them: it is no longer their institution or their country. Stellenbosch University and the greater South Africa now belong to us, and we are tired of the exclusivity and intolerance of people who can barely operate a cellphone.


Transformation does not mean being anti-Afrikaans. I, and many other Afrikaans-speaking individuals, are pro-transformation. Transformation means that everyone is welcome as they are and that they do not have to be Afrikaans-speaking to be welcome. It means that Stellenbosch University is a neutral space where no one culture dominates the institution to the exclusion of all others. Transformation means that I can be Afrikaans-speaking without the entire institution having to be Afrikaans-speaking, because my language and culture are not so important that they should be the only ones represented.


Before the meeting on June 1st, I advise Heunis and his followers to reformulate their arguments based on facts and not their chosen narrative. Currently, they are explaining why the grass is green when the question is about the colour of the sky. Furthermore, it is contradictory and irrelevant. I also wonder if a modern tertiary institution is truly the best place for their opinions. Perhaps they might find a better fit within the Suidlanders?


(Note: "Suidlanders" refers to a South African far-right group.)


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