The Transformation Office and the Centre for Student Communities at Stellenbosch University (SU) have been running various ResEd workshops since the start of welcoming week. As part of the ResEd programme, every first-year student starting at SU attends workshops structured around the three themes of sociocultural awareness, leadership and intergroup skills, and a mindset of social innovation and design. These fun and engaging sessions help students navigate a new social environment, which is possibly very different from their high schools. The ultimate objective is to expose students to new ways of thinking and help them see the world through the eyes of others.
The sessions addressing sociocultural awareness are “Be aware of what's fair", “Dictionary of difference", “The identity map" and “Disable ignorance". These sessions build awareness of social inequality, introduce students to the terminology of social inclusion, guide them to explore their identities, and offer them practical ways to correct possible inappropriate interactions with students and staff with disabilities.
The workshops presented under the theme leadership and intergroup skills are called “Bystander effect", “Say something?" and “Enabling empathy". These sessions sensitise students to scenarios that could potentially lead to sexual assault, help them respond to discrimination and unconscious bias, and teach them about empathy and its role in the SU community.
The third theme, a mindset of social innovation and design, comprises the sessions “Changing behaviour through innovation" and “Social media 4 good". Participants are given a scenario or social setting in which they need to change group behaviour through social design. A simulated social media experiment is also used to explore how innovative social media can be employed to bring about positive social disruption.
The ResEd workshops afford Matie newcomers a mixed setting in which to actively engage and share their experiences, which enables them to make new friends from their residences or private student organisations. The sessions were designed by Babalwa Gusha (Programme Coordinator: Transformation Office), Yeki Mosomothane (Multicultural Educator and Coordinator: Centre for Student Communities) and Monica du Toit (former Director: Transformation), with input from colleagues across SU. A team of student leaders who are all well familiar with the SU community were trained early in 2019 to facilitate the workshops. During each session, a few lucky first-years also stand a chance to win pillowcases with designs that depict the topics covered in the workshops, such as gender-neutral terminology and the meaning of consent.
The SU community can like and follow the Transformation Office on Facebook and Twitter at @SUTransform for more pictures taken at the workshops