The Stellenbosch University (SU) campus was abuzz with excitement during the official welcoming ceremony, held on 1 February 2024 at Danie Craven Stadium.
Thousands of newcomer students and their friends and family attended the event. This included students from the Tygerberg and Saldanha campuses. After the ceremony, students participated in the Dream Walk in Victoria Street. Launched in 2019, this initiative sees students walk through the street to symbolise the official start of their academic journey at SU.
Prof Wim de Villiers, SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor, said the official welcoming ceremony was important because it helps to shape newcomers' sense of what university life will be like.
“I believe an event like this plays an important part in giving our new students a sense of identity; a sense of what it means to be a Matie," said De Villiers.
Both De Villiers, and Phiwokuhle Qabaka, the Student Representative Council's (SRC) Chairperson for 2024, emphasised the importance of embracing SU's values to use as a roadmap for their time at University.
“Excellence, compassion, accountability, respect, equity. Use these five words as your guide in all circumstances. They'll remind you that you belong here. The idea that Stellenbosch University is a place for a certain group of people, is long gone. This place is yours," said De Villiers.
Qabaka spoke about SU's history of exclusion, but appreciates the steps the University has taken to advance transformation.
“My experiences within this institution has groomed and shaped the proud black Xhosa womxn that I am today and continue to become. The words of our Vice-Chancellor constantly remind us that our university is not an English, IsiXhosa or Afrikaans institution, but a multicultural, multiracial, and multilingual university, where students from all walks of life are welcomed – embedded in unity."
At the start of his speech De Villiers also mentioned the ongoing investigation regarding the items found in two rooms of the Wilgenhof residence. He assured students and their parents of SU's commitment to students' safety.
“The safety and well-being of our students are non-negotiable. The University has a zero tolerance policy toward any acts, behaviour or structures that contribute to the demeaning of any member of the University community. We don't just want you to FEEL safe, we want you to know that you ARE safe," he said.
The official Welcoming Programme runs until 11 February before classes start on 12 February.
Click here for the official welcoming website.