At its meeting on Monday 17 April 2023, the Council of Stellenbosch University (SU) noted and agreed that while there are aspects of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) Report on language in SU residences during the welcoming period in 2021 that it might want to respond to more fully to and possibly even challenge, it doesn't intend to delay until the date set by the SAHRC (13 May) to implement the essence of the SAHRC remedial action and recommendation.
SU reiterated its previous statements that the conduct of the nature set out in the SAHRC Report, which limited the speaking of Afrikaans at residences, is wrong and should never have happened. As the SAHRC indicated, the University's Language Policy would not have allowed any student to be prohibited from speaking their language of choice in social circumstances. SU is currently taking Senior Counsel's advice on aspects of the SAHRC Report after which it will respond fully to the Report, but we welcome the SAHRC finding that there is not a “blatant and concentrated ban on Afrikaans inspired and motivated by a concerted effort from [SU] and certain individuals in management to eradicate Afrikaans from SU."
SU unequivocally apologises to all students in Minerva and Irene who were affected by the residence practices during welcoming week in 2021 and who felt that their human rights and dignity were affected by not being able to speak Afrikaans in a social context.
Although we have extensive training in place on the application of the language policy for student leaders, and we have reinforced that training already this year, we will continue to do so. At the same time, we are confirming our commitment to a multilingual, multicultural university which respects human rights and dignity and where all our stakeholders feel welcome, a move supported by SU Senate in its motion.