Stellenbosch University (SU) has long taken a firm stance against all forms of sexual misconduct and violence against women. The Rector's Management Team (RMT) has therefore noted with concern recent complaints about a rape culture at the institution, and has decided to appoint a Task Team to investigate rape culture to urgently look into the matter and make the necessary recommendations.
At its regular weekly meeting on 8 March 2016, the RMT reaffirmed the University approach of zero tolerance towards sexual misconduct. Rape is a serious criminal offence that falls under the jurisdiction of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the judiciary, and the University provides its full cooperation in all criminal investigations.
Sexual misconduct is also dealt with in terms of the University's Student Disciplinary Code and its Sexual Harassment Policy (for staff members). SU's Division of Legal Services investigates allegations, and University's Sexual Harassment Advisory Committee hears and acts on reported cases of sexual misconduct.
However, what is being raised goes beyond legal and disciplinary aspects. There are complaints of a general culture of disrespect and harassment of women students, and that this is regarded as normal. This should also be seen in the context of challenges in this regard in society as a whole.
Existing counter-measures at SU include ongoing activities on our various campuses to create awareness about gender issues and sexual harassment. Consciousness-raising sessions and sensitivity training for staff members and students take place both in and outside of residences. But more systematic interventions might be required to challenge entrenched practices. Coming up with recommendations in this regard will fall within the ambit of the Task Team's scope of work.
Policies and procedures are constantly under review with a view to strengthening SU's institutional response to sexual misconduct, assault and harassment.
Members of the Task Team are as follows:
Birgit Schreiber, Chairperson of the Taskteam
Monica Du Toit, Transformation Office
Mutina Dunn-Coetzee, Centre for Student Counselling and Development
Amanda Gouws, Sexual harassment Advisory Committee
Ilhaam Gorenewald, Matie Sport
Pieter Kloppers, Student Structures and Communities
Mariana Kruger, Tygerberg campus representative
Melany le Roux, Campus security
Kara Meiring, Student representative
Farai Mubaiwa, Student representative
Mumtaj Parker, Student Counselling and Development
Faith Pienaar, Transformation Office
Danie Roux, Student Discipline
Nicolette van den Eijkel, Facility Management
René-Jean van der Berg, Corporate Marketing
Leslie van Rooi, Student Structures and Communities
Martin Viljoen, Corporate Marketing
Pierre Viviers, Campus Health Services