The Stellenbosch University (SU) Senate has thrown its weight behind a “focused and concerted long-term institutional response" to the issues brought to the fore by the recent controversial journal article on race and cognition by five SU academics.
“We believe the University should become a key site for developing a critique of race in science and research, and establishing related institutional practices and processes," reads a motion adopted by Senate at its second scheduled meeting for the year on Friday 31 May 2019. (Click here for the full text.)
The motion was brought by three Senate members who also serve on the SU Council, along with ten of their Senate colleagues. Following in-depth discussion, it was unanimously adopted , on condition that the following four concrete proposals in the motion were referred to the office/entity as indicated, for further consideration and action:
That “consideration be given to instituting a campus-wide mechanism dedicated to transforming research and science" – referred to the Vice-Rector: Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies (VR:RIPS).
That “consideration be given to offering a module on anti-racism, democracy and critical citizenship to all first-year students" – referred to Senate's Academic Planning Committee (APC).
That “a suite of short courses be offered by the Research Office for all staff members" on topics such as “the use of human categories in research and science" – referred to the VR:RIPS.
That departments such as Gender and Critical Race Studies be institutionalised at SU – referred to the APC.
Also at the Senate meeting, Prof Jimmy Volmink, Dean: Medicine and Health Sciences, spoke of the “convulsions experienced by staff and students" in the Department of Sport Science following the publication of the article. (The Department moved over to his Faculty at the start of the year.)
“What happened in this department could have happened at any other department at this University, but also at other universities in South Africa. So, I don't think any of us has earned the right to claim the moral high ground," he said.
“I want to make it clear to our colleagues that we embrace each member of this department, and we also embrace our responsibility to work with them to try and address the issues and see how these can be avoided in future."