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Poor results account for change

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Issues concerning involvement
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Rhodes re-educates refs
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The Oppidan Press
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Edition 4, 23 April 2013


SRC budget

Illustration: AMY SLATEM




Local artists showcase their talents 14

News Features


The Oppidan Press 23 April 2013

Race: in dire need of debate?


Photo: MIA VAN DER MERWE By Tarryn de Kock Politics recent article featured in the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) campus newspaper, Varsity News, elicited a countrywide response from students, citizens and politicians alike. The article focused on love and relationships among the youth, in particularly inter-racial dating. It was accompanied by a pie chart that depicted the sample of students that voted on what they considered to be the most attractive race. Much of the condemnation of the article related to the pie chart, which many found to be ‘‘demeaning, pointless and regressive’’ - as was stated by biracial UCT student Tiffany Serenge. Having taken a sample of ten students per race, the writer only surveyed a total of 60 students on a campus of close to 25 500 people (according to the 2012 census). Concerns were raised about the validity of the chart as well as the intentions behind and framing of the article. Race is an issue that people in South Africa confront on a daily basis. Despite being considered a democratic and incredibly pluralistic society, much of the interaction between South Africans is framed within the context of race and the treatment of race groups in the past has impacted on the socio-economic, cultural and political positioning of people today. However, despite numerous efforts to confront the issue of race, few are sensitive to the ways in which it does and does not factor into the way South Africans live their lives. The reaction to the article in Varsity News highlighted this insensitivity: framing people’s personal romantic choices in terms of racial categorisation is problematic in that it reduces the way people love to a matter of skin colour. Anthropology lecturer Dr Joy Owen, who teaches a first-year course on race and ethnicity at Rhodes University, said: “For a number of years, people were asked questions on various campuses around the country about the main issue on their campus. Someone in the Rhodes University staff said that race was not an issue, and that LGBTI rights were more pressing. Students were irritated by this – especially students who were classed as non-white.” “The irritation came because at the time the Rhodes campus was still predominantly white, and although the so-called racial configuration of campus has shifted in the past four or so years, the issue of class has remained distinctive,” she continued Owen went on to say that she needs to be conscious of the demographic of students she teaches, specifically because their realities may differ from her own. During her time at Rhodes, there has been a shift in the significance of race as a social marker, giving way to class as a new form of differentiation between people. “People forget that race is still attached to ideas of culture, and through this they forget that being part of the same class does not mean people are of the same race,” she said. One of her students mentioned in a lecture that Rhodes is essentially an elitist environment, recognising the implications that class and economics have on access to higher education. “When we speak about and teach the concept of race we treat it as an external thing,” Owen said. “It is not. It is very much an internal concern on this campus and the way we interact with and experience each other, even if we may be looking at an elite portion of the population.” Politics lecturer Richard Pithouse agrees that denying the existence of race as a reality and its influence on people’s behaviour is not the right way of addressing the problem. “There is this assumption, sometimes, that Rhodes is this island outside of society,” he said. “That is not true. It is not immune to pressures, histories and compromises in society at large. The incident at UCT was really a matter of student perceptions, and the pie chart was not methodologically-serious research.” “Race is transmitted through various things,” Pithouse added. “It is transmitted through Hollywood films and popular culture, but primarily, in the South African conception, it is transmitted through the family, and the family is intended to be apolitical. Kids are no longer drawing their perceptions of race from the official politics of the country, but from the homes in which they have grown up.” The problem with race denialism is that it makes it difficult to engage in dialogue on the very reality of “race.” In a society as deeply scarred by racism as South Africa, it is difficult to claim not to see race when it pervades every aspect of society: university admission requirements, job applications, quota systems in sports teams and bursary application requirements, to name a few. Dialogue on race is necessary because while race has no biological or scientific grounding, it is a social reality that one cannot escape. University campuses are associated with liberal values but it needs to be questioned whether this is accompanied by an inherent expectation that people should leave their attitudes outside these institutions and engage in liberal discourse without confronting these mind-sets. At the most basic level this means that despite the show of unity and acceptance among students, there is the potential for an undercurrent of private, subconscious racism to pervade, making it harder to combat and resolve. “It needs to be understood that racism is not concentrated in one group,” Owen said. “People who live the realities of racism are going to be affected by it and it will have an impact on how they relate to others.” Rhodes students have been victims of racial attacks in the past, some of which were reported in campus media last year. Recently, student Neo Baepi was confronted by two locals on a night out and insulted in a racist and homophobic manner. She found herself near them later on and one of the men smashed a glass bottle and came at her.“This is not the first time this has happened,” she stated. “In my first year I went to a local bar on a quiet night with a friend, and a group of guys sitting nearby told us that we were no longer in Gugulethu. Because these slurs continued, we felt pressured to leave.” Baepi said that for the most part, her peers were quite shocked and disgusted by what happened to her. ‘‘Racism is prominent on Rhodes’s campus, no matter what the official policy is. Being a black student is vastly different to being a white student, and this needs to be spoken about and not just swept under the carpet.’’ Third-year student Katharine Holmes found that reactions to her being in an interracial relationship were largely positive or apathetic. ‘‘I haven’t experienced as many odd responses as one would think. Sometimes we get some stares when we are together, but I think it is more curiosity than anything else,” she said. “It’s also really funny seeing the reaction people have when I mention my boyfriend’s name, because up to that point they assume he is white. Thankfully I come from a very open-minded family, so they have no problem with it – they think he’s great.’’ Baepi agreed that for the most part the students she has encountered have been generally quite accepting and progressive. ‘‘One thing I can take away from Rhodes is that my peers are aware of the fundamental problem that exists here,’’ she said. ‘‘Not a lot of people want to do something about it, but at least they are aware, and are willing to discuss it. It feels good because at least in that way ideas start flowing, and change is possible.’’ It is hoped that Baepi’s sentiments will resonate with the rest of the Rhodes community.



Th c r Th e d ‘ G i m

f t D o s

Check it out at:

// A silent experience
A look into the journey of a first-time silent protestor

Women Academic Solidarity Association discussion defies the myth of youth apathy

The annual cancer cyclathon and shavathon

s p a c p Th s t d “ t c

Th c a d f c h s c

News Features
Student needs made priority at Student Forum
By Mitchell Shaun Parker and Mila Kakaza he Student Representative Council’s (SRC) Student Forum meeting, held on 14 March, saw the proposition of a new bailout fund and a centralised student transportation system being tabled before a portion of the student body. The event, held in the University’s Geography Department, was attended by leaders in the Rhodes community. The SRC bailout fund, after much deliberation over its possible success, is going to be implemented with R61 541.50 (or 5.63% of the SRC’s 2013 budget) already allocated to this cause. The student-initiated fund aims to assist students who cannot afford residence, books or specific miscellaneous expenses which are vital for their education at the university. It will be able to offer deserving candidates a maximum of R5000 per year; an amount chosen due to the average student in need owing between R500 and R5000 at the end of each year. SRC President Sakhúsomeleze Badi stated that background checks would be conducted as a part of the selection process for bailout fund recipients. A student approaching the Council for financial assistance will need to provide documentation supporting a dire need for the fund’s assistance – similar to that of the National Student Financial Assistance Scheme (NSFAS). A student chosen to receive these funds may not be on academic probation as they must show a high level of academic success to be considered eligible. All of this information should be accessible from the institution, as the SRC will work in partnership with the Student Fees Office. This partnership will ensure  that the funds are paid directly into the student account of the individual and that no funds will be transferred into the personal accounts of students. SRC Student Benefits Councillor Lethabo Sekele will chair the selection process with the assistance of the Council’s Secretariat, Academic Councillor, Vice President and two nominees from the Student Disciplinary Board or Student Defence Council. “Every case needs to be judged on its own merit,” said Badi. “We represent all students and our heart is with these student problems,” he added. The motivation behind this initiative comes from fluctuating university fees and the fact that Rhodes University has the second highest fees after the University Of Cape Town (UCT). Badi stated that it is “not about making a momentary impact but rather a lifetime impact”. A website will be launched soon which will detail the criteria required in order for students to access the bailout fund. Sekele will be allocated the task of obtaining the extra funding as well as exploring many other funding routes.  Due to the impact that Rhodes has on the economy of Grahamstown, the SRC is hoping to encourage major companies in the area to donate to the fund in order to fulfil their corporate social responsibility. The Rhodes University alumni, African leaders and various African institutes are also amongst the prospective funders of this initiative. Societies can, and are encouraged to donate money as well. Allegedly, money raised from the SRC Field Party will also be channelled into this project. Another sizeable development was a more in-depth discussion of the proposed centralised transport system for Rhodes University students – both on and off campus. The SRC has been in talks with the Oppidan Union Committee, as well as Student Services, and is in the process of determining the most cost-effective route forward. Oppidan Commitee Chairperson, Darren Wolhuter, explained how there is already a R155 levy charged each year that partly goes towards the running of the current bus – which he claims costs R200 000 a year. This money is to be channelled into the centralised system. “The need,” Badi said, “is clear”. Residences are being built over the hill,

23 April 2013 The Oppidan Press



We represent all students and our heart is with these student problems
- Sakhe Badi SRC President

and parking is already limited despite the expanding student population and oppidan students need transport. Secretary-General, Mathabe Thabane, echoed these views and called for more support from the University in this regard. “It has been established that it is needed. Rhodes University needs to take responsibility,” she said. The next Student Forum is on 9 May, with the venue yet to be confirmed.

Development prioritised
VC’s address reflects interest in the growth of Grahamstown, past and future
By Chelsea Haith The Rhodes University and Grahamstown communities have developed in a symbiotic relationship, which has allowed both to grow. The student contribution to this small town’s economy and the habitation of so many students in digs has led to a close integration of ‘town and gown’. Such integration has allowed Grahamtown to evolve with the times, making it a unique construction of historical and modern entities. Change in the community and signs of shifting focus are present both on and off campus. Under the Arch, one of the shops located under the Drostdy Arch, has recently undergone a change of ownership with Janet Flynn signing over the shop’s lease to Debra and Nadine Stein in March. In 18th century Grahamstown, the very same spot acted as the gallows for criminals. The Steins plan to support the development of arts and crafts as much as possible, while maintaining the income of their international stock products, a large portion of which are sourced in South America. This international flavour in the Grahamstown setting is a reflection of the mixture of students the shop hopes to draw with its new merchandise. Debra Stein noted that the new stock will be “different things for different people”, indicating their focus on serving a varied and frequently changing market. This change is one of many in recent years. The introduction of the Twing Sushi Bar and complimentary Asian restaurant Twing Wok situated in Peppergrove Mall has brought a modern dining experience to the usual pub and grub fare. Students from major city centres are used to certain dining experiences being available in their hometowns and this demand has led to increased supplies of globally consumed products. The increase in modern restaurants isn’t the only social

A view of Grahamstown and Rhodes University taken from the 1820 Settlers’ Monument. Photo: KIRSTEN MAKIN change. Rhodian David Megom, who graduated in 1986, recalls that there were far more pubs and hotels and far fewer cafés during his time of studies. In the 1980’s, the only major store was a large retailer on High Street and so the construction of Peppergrove Mall has led to a change in consumer goods and target markets served, said Megom. Megom noted that there are even improvements to the road linking Grahamstown to Port Elizabeth including safer road barriers and a tar surface. He recalled horrific car accidents due to lax traffic laws in the past. Unfortunately the train infrastructure, once the transport of choice, has fallen entirely by the wayside. Developments in the nightlife of Grahamstown has also changed dramatically. Megom recalls that the old Victoria Hotel was far more central to student life and that the Post-Grad Village situated next to the 1820’s Settler’s Monument used to be an upmarket motel which one might, he said, “take a lady friend back to.” He recalled the Stephen Biko Union Building used to have a far more active role in student activities and that after drinks at the Union, students would walk to the ‘old Vic’, after which a visit to the Albany bakery for late-night snacks was a regular weekend occurrence. Some might call the Albany bakery visits an equivalent of today’s popular BP runs. The rise of modern popular culture has changed the landscape of fashion and retailers have altered their stock and target markets to reflect this; franchises are growing while small independents such as professional suit-makers are experiencing a depleting demand. This too is a product of our changing times. Thirty years ago students were required to wear suits and ties to class, women wore skirts or pant-suits, and dress style was formal for all events. Nowadays, students walk the streets of town and campus barefoot and occasionally attend lectures in their pyjamas, as noted by Dean of Students Dr Vivian de Klerk in her Parents Orientation address during Orientation Week. A ‘Campus Development Plan’, as outlined by Rhodes’ Vice-Chancellor Dr Saleem Badat, will focus on further transformation on campus. In his address to student and public media on April 12, Badat outlined past infrastructure developments on campus since 2007, which included the construction of the new library, the addition of five residences and the Desmond Tutu Dining Hall, the construction of the new environmental education building, as well as telecommunication improvements. Also mentioned were plans to build a new School of Languages building and future plans to convert the current Oakdene House into a new postgraduate residence, indicating Rhodes’ commitment to increasing the numbers of postgraduate students. The Grahamstown modernisation may also include the introduction of a Mugg & Bean franchise, as Grahamstown is currently “under investigation” as a possible location for the chain restaurant, according to Yvonne van Wyk of the New Business Development department at Famous Brands. This proliferation of franchises is another effect of the changing economic system in the town. The arrival of Mugg & Bean, while heralded as a positive addition to Grahamstown’s café options, may heat up the competition for the independent coffee houses that lend their charm to the town’s atmosphere. While the world moves in, brought by the changing and growing community of students in search of something from home, Grahamstown and Rhodes adapt. Perhaps this is to the detriment of the individuality of this town so long allowed to be unique in the composition of both its inhabitants and structure.

News Features
By Mitchell Shaun Parker and Ndileka Lujabe he release of the 2013 annual Student Representative Council budget on 22 February raised questions regarding the reasoning behind the allocations of funds. Particularly striking were the hefty amounts allocated to entertainment, travel, the SRC President’s personal


The Oppidan Press 23 April 2013

Red flags in SRC expenditure plan
allocation, and the significantly unequal amounts given to each society. The SRC has allocated R30 000 for entertainment, which President Sakh’usomeleze Badi said involved hosting various student councils from other universities, as well as other guests. “When SRCs from other universities come here we have to accommodate them with meals and stuff like that,” Badi explained. During International Week, many delegates will be coming to Rhodes from universities such as Oxford. “They need to leave with the right perception,” he said. The entertainment budget also involves providing snacks and water at various campus talks, student forums, and during elections. According to the budget, the SRC can spend R40 000 on travelling expenses, due to the numerous conferences they attend on weekends. “Sometimes when visiting other universities our transport is sponsored. But other times, we have to pay for our travelling expenses,” Badi said. As an example, Badi cited his trip to Cape Town earlier this year, when he had to pay for his own transport, yet was sponsored for everything else. In addition, the travelling expenses go towards helping fellow students attend conferences, as well as paying for the President’s attendance to funerals of students who’ve passed away. “If you were to make a comparative analysis of the SRC at Rhodes University to other institutions you’d be very shocked. If you look at, for instance, the budget of the University of Cape Town (UCT), they have travel trips where they go overseas. We don’t,” Badi stated. Further analysis of the budget noted the peculiar income received from the ticket sales of the SRC Field Party, which amounted to R56 541.50. In response to the enquiry of how the 50c was acquired – as tickets were not sold in increments that included 50c Badi explained that “there are always anomalies where money is given where it shouldn’t have been”. He suggested that it must have happened as a glitch in balancing the accounts, which is done and handled by the SRC Treasurer Ntsikelelo Qoyo. “These things happen,” he added. In terms of society grants, Badi stated that there is a certain set of criteria decided by the Council concerning how and why societies receive their money. The new policy succeeds the 2001 policy used to determine the grants handed out for the year, which came up at the 14 March Student Forum. Badi added that the total amount of R128 897 allocated to societies has not changed since 2012. Badi himself received a staggering R22 000. According to him, the money is “not only for [me] alone, but also for various issues that might pop up”. Issues here include projects that other SRC members might suddenly need extra funding for, or to help a student that has needs that aren’t catered for in the current budget set-up. “The money is also shared between the Vice-President Bradley Bense and the Secretary General Mathaabe Thabane,” he explained. “The money is also spent on various meetings that are attended, [as well as] unexpected mishaps such as the SRC bus breaking down, which will need fixing,” said the SRC Liasion Officer Eric Ofei. However, the budget makes way for these pop ups and unexpected events with the help of the General/Miscellaneous expenditure account, amounting to R28 000, and not through the President’s account. Other red flags included the SRC Inauguration and Training budget allocation of R30 000. Badi, however, explained that the training included a week-long camp which had to accommodate, feed and provide training resources for the 16 newly-elected SRC members as well as 5 members of the 2013 Executive. The 2013 SRC notably began their term with a R350 353.15 debt due to mismanagement of funds and overspending in previous years. “As a result of this, R100 000 (or 8.21% of the total spending) has been spent on a debt repayment,” said Badi. This is the reason why the budget for societies has not increased. The treasurer was not available for comment before the time of going to print. Despite being announced as the final budget at the 22 February Student Forum, Badi stressed that this budget is only a projected spending plan.


SRC Spending Budget for 2013
37.62% 30.15%

Running account for the SRC

SRC Committee spending

Entertainment spending

Running debt payment

Societies spending




A visual overview of the 2013 SRC budget.

Pick-pocketing is becoming a prevalent occurrence
By Azarrah Karrim and Sisipho Skweyiya Despite an abundance of calls for students to be vigilant concerning their valuables, a wave of pickpocketing occurrences continues to plague students. Categorised under “petty crime”, pickpocketing, on as well as off campus, seems to be a subtle yet ongoing offence. According to Captain and Spokesperson of the Grahamstown branch of the South African Police Service (SAPS), Mali Govender, pickpocketing falls under the category of propertyrelated crime. Govender also stated that people who fall victim to pickpocketing are those who tend to leave their possessions carelessly unguarded. Having your cell phone or wallet at the back of your pocket, or even leaving the zip of your bag open, makes you susceptible to the crime. One of the many offences Govender has dealt with was a victim who was accosted without actually being aware of it. It took them some time to even realise that they were missing some of their valuables. Regarding the prevention and safety of students, Govender said, “There are certain crimes that are policeable, and there are some crimes which are difficult to police. Pick-pocketing is one of the crimes we have difficulty policing.” Due to the fact that SAPS cannot police the crime effectively, they rely on word-of-mouth for information about the common places where pick-pocketing takes place in order to deploy police to vehicle- and foot-patrol the area. “For instance,” Govender said, “in New Street, High Street and a few shops.” Statistically, it is difficult to say what the rate of pickpocketing is. Once the same crime has been reported on two or more separate occasions, the police claim that it is taken seriously. They claim to then issue a warning to the community, which obviously includes the students. From the evidence, it would seem that students should be especially vigilant outside establishments like Friar Tucks, the Rat and Parrot and the Monastery. Daniel Grinker, a first-year student, was out at night and fell victim to pick-pocketing. “I was sitting at a table outside of Monastery, there were a couple of drinks involved, but I was not zoning out. Then I felt this guy take my phone out of my pocket,” he said. “Once I realised that he got it out of my pocket, I chased him down the block, but then he jumped over a fence by a construction site. I didn’t want to jump over because I didn’t know what was waiting for me on the other side,” he added. This is only one example of students being pick-pocketed late at night. Student Tony Roumeliotis shared the same experience outside of Friar Tucks. He suspected that those who pick-pocket look for drunk students because they make the easiest targets. “These [drunk students] are not really fully functional, so opportunists find it easy to take phones, wallets, whatever they can grab; they are very quick and efficient,” he said. From Govender’s experience as a person who deals with victims on a daily basis, she encouraged students to ensure that all their possessions are enclosed and protected at all times. Both Grinker and Roumeliotis did not report the incident to the Campus Protection Unit (CPU). Instead, Grinker reported it to Hi-Tech security, “It’s a mission to go all the way up the hill and I didn’t want to push a panic button.” Panic buttons are strategically placed throughout campus for use by students who feel they are in danger or have been attacked. “I didn’t go to CPU because I didn’t feel like they could do anything about it. Their task force is quite small, so they can’t go running around at night looking for people’s cell phones when people might be getting raped,” stated Grinker. Unfortunately, the pickpocketing may also come from fellow students. La’renique Van Der Ross, for example, was on her way home for vacation by bus. “It happened in Barthurst Street, that’s where my bus picked us up. There were quite a lot of students loading their luggage on the trailer, and my phone was in my pocket,” she said. When she got on the bus, she immediately searched her pockets. That’s when she realised that her phone was missing. “I am quite sure that one of the people who were standing next to or around me took it. And sadly I was surrounded by students,” she added.

Many students have been victims of crime such as theft or pick-pocketing, even on Rhodes University campus. Photo: HOLLY SNELL Roumeliotis also insisted that pickpockets do not target any specific gender, race or age, but rather go for the easiest person to steal from. While David Brown, Acting Campus Protection Unit Manager, echoed Govender’s advice for students, he also claimed that, as far as he is aware, Rhodes campus, in comparison to town, is little affected by pick-pocketing.

News Features
By Nina van Graan and Lauren Flynn he 2012 accounting examinations resulted in only 8% of the third-year class passing the paper. Due to the extremely low pass rate, questions as to who and what was to blame arose and prompted both the Rhodes University Accounting Department and students to ensure a positive change. The university’s department, accredited by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants, has always produced consistently pleasing results in parts one and two of their examinations. So, how did nearly the entire class fail their third-year course? Some students, who are yet to enrol in the third-year course, now fear a repeated dismal performance and have asked questions concerning the level of difficulty of the exam paper. Liesel Botha, the third-year Course Co-ordinator and Chartered Accountant who joined the Department in September last year, specified that the core Accounting syllabus is prescribed by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) and that the level of difficulty is not up to them. Botha explained, “The upcoming exam in June will adhere to such requirements and will test levels of competency as necessary.” She went on, “As with all exams, the paper has been subject to moderation and necessary amendments have been made based on this review to ensure it is fair and comprehensive.” The Accounting Department has kept the syllabus very much the same. However, certain modules have been reorganised in order to give students more time to come to grips with the more challenging topics. In addition to this, two new lecturers were appointed in the latter half of 2012 who are dedicated to the Accounting 3 course. A student who wishes to remain anonymous and is repeating the third-year Accounting course, admits to seeing positive changes over the last year in the Department. After the completion of the 2012 academic year, students were asked to note suggestions they believed would make the course more comprehensible, the student said. His main concern was the overly relaxed nature of tutorials. “This year the main difference has been the tutorials. There is more lecturer-student interaction and guidance. It wasn’t strict enough before,” he said. “This year the lecturers are taking more time in the lectures. The pace is better so we have time to understand the work,” he explained. “There has been a definite change in attitude amongst the Department and lecturers,” he added. Botha advised that, “Lecturers run an ‘open-door policy’ in which students are encouraged to seek consultation on areas they find troublesome.” The Student Representative Council (SRC) has also stepped in to remedy last year’s mistakes. “We have set aside a portion of our budget dedicated to Accounting students to assist in avoiding the recurrence of last year’s results,” said the SRC Academic Councillor Victor Mafuku. Progress tests during tutorials have

23 April 2013

The Oppidan Press


Dismal results prompt positive change


John Williams, the Head of the Accounting Department at Rhodes University, along with other lecturers are implementing new systems to improve the success of their courses. Photo: RORY BOON been introduced to ensure that students work consistently, enabling them to track their progress. Furthermore, the Department has introduced ‘test weeks’ whereby all tests are written in the same week, with no lectures or tutorials taking place in order to allow students enough time to focus on revision and consultation. This all seems to be greatly beneficial students but the real test will come in this year’s June examinations. In the very first lecture this year, students were asked to suggest ways in which they were going to make a success of the course. The students’ and lecturers’ recommendations included taking lectures and tutorials seriously, planned preparation, asking for assistance and having a consistent work ethic. “Students who follow these recommendations should hopefully find themselves reaping the benefits,” said Botha. Dean of Students Dr Vivian de Klerk tweeted on Wednesday 13 March, “@ ViviandeKlerk: A worrying statistic: approximately 50% of our Commerce 3rd [year] students are in their 4th year socially. What’s the problem??” Active precautions to this disconcerting statistic have been put in place by the Accounting Department but their success remains to be seen.

Gender violence: a Grahamstown contextualisation
By Abigail Butcher and Mitchell Parker Politics In the wake of the case of Thandiswa Qubuda’s brutal rape and her subsequent death on 1 March due to the injuries sustained during the attack, students have questioned the significance of the outrage and protest towards sexual violence in Grahamstown. Following Qubuda’s attack, organisations such as the Gender Action Project (GAP), the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) voiced their outrage in the media toward acts of gender violence, a phenomenon which is alarmingly common in the Grahamstown community. “We were lucky we didn’t have any rapes this weekend,” stated Captain Mali Govender of the Grahamstown SAPS, when asked about the number of cases the SAPS deals with regarding sexual violence. The African National Congress (ANC) and Congress of the People have both publicly condemned sexual violence, and members of both organisations used Thandiswa’s memorial service to do so. However, those in attendance felt that not only was using the memorial service of a rape victim as a political tool distasteful, it was also ineffectual. Political rhetoric condemning such acts of sexual violence is also considered insufficient. This is noted by GAP Treasurer Stuart Lewis stating: “It would be nice if they were actually working towards some kind of action.” This opinion has been reported to be held by frustrated community members in the past. Responding to the subsequent release of Qubuda’s attackers, the ANC Women’s League gathered in protest outside the Grahamstown branch of the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to protest the rise of violent sexual crimes. They demanded that no perpetrators of abuse and violence against women, children and the elderly be granted bail – as was the case with Thandiswa’s alleged rapists – and that those found guilty be sentenced to life imprisonment. The group also made practical demands of both the SAPS and local taverns. They requested that taverns be closed by midnight and that police visibility be increased. In response to the incident, GAP raised money to fund Qubuda’s memorial and a reserve fund now exists in memory of her. The “Thandi Fund” consists of the excess money raised by GAP to pay for the memorial. This fund-raising was done in conjunction with the Unemployed People’s Movement – referred to as GAP’s community partner – with support for the campaign coming from both students and community members. of abuse are dealt with. Victim-blaming and other non-compliance from SAPS are major issues as highlighted by organisations such as GAP, 1in9 and the yearly Silent Protest. However, Captain Govender stated that officers undergo specific training with regard to sexual offences. Govender said that the Grahamstown Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) Unit has been set up in the department specifically to deal with such issues. She went on to reiterate the mantra of those involved in the protest of rape and sexual violence: “‘no’ does not mean ‘yes’ – at all”. The competency of this unit came into question with regard to Thandiswa Qubuda’s case. It is alleged that the officers arrived on the scene when Thandiswa had already been taken to hospital and failed to take forensic evidence. Captain Govender maintained that while there is an on-going internal investigation to uncover any mismanagement, the SAPS are not to be blamed. Following Qubuda’s rescue from the scene, she was taken to hospital where a doctor allegedly refused to check for evidence of sexual assault without Thandiswa’s consent. As she was in a coma, she could not provide such consent. She was also therefore unable to lay a charge of rape. Captain Govender maintains that part of the issue in providing effective policing of sexual violence is the bureaucratic processes by which the SAPS are bound. The most the SAPS could allegedly do at the time was to lay a charge of attempted murder against two men for the attack, aged 19 and 20. They were later released as there was not enough evidence to hold them, since the only witness left Grahamstown due to alleged intimidation by community members. Both men were released without bail. Despite all protest action and measures put in place to help victims, stop perpetrators and educate the general populace, sexual violence is still a prevalent issue in Grahamstown that requires continued significant action.

Those in attendance felt that not only was using the memorial service of a rape victim as a political tool distasteful, it was also ineffectual

Lewis notes that Qubuda’s attack was not an isolated event, and says that the fund aims to provide legal aid, counselling and medical assistance to rape survivors. GAP is also active in the coordination of the annual Silent Protest at Rhodes University as well as the Child Protection Action Forum. This is a monthly meeting regarding child violence that is held with relevant entities such as the police, legal representatives and community leaders in attendance, in order to facilitate communication and help rewrite the protocol regarding how violence against children is addressed. A common complaint in rape cases is police inefficiency when dealing with both the crime scene and the way in which victims

News Features
Student political organisations fail to draw support
By Jordan Stier Politics


The Oppidan Press 23 April 2013


ollowing last term’s societies sign-up, the Rhodes University Democratic Alliance Students Organisation (DASO) only secured 22 members for this year. Since both DASO and the ANC-affiliated South African Students Congress (SASCO) struggle continuously for membership and influence in the University, concern has been raised over the place of partisan politics on Rhodes campus, as these are the only two political societies on campus. This raises concerns over the development opportunities offered to Rhodes students with political aspirations. DASO Interim Chairperson Keenan Collett said, “It would not be accurate to count the number of members in a non-election year,” because there is a notable membership increase in election years such as 2014. While better than DASO’s 22 members, SASCO’s membership of 83 is disappointingly low for a society aligned with the largest political party in the country. Senior Politics lecturer Dr Sally Matthews attributes these low membership tallies to students being better able to relate to organisations dealing with specific issues, such as gender equality and sexuality. This is expressed in initiatives such as the Silent Protest and Pride Week, rather than broader political projects involving national parties. “Perhaps this indicates disillusionment on the part of students with the role played by the national parties to which these organisations are tied,” Matthews suggested. DA Eastern Cape Deputy Chairperson and ex-Rhodes student Andrew Whitfield shared the view that: “For all intents and purposes this [university] is an ideal environment to engage in partisan political debate but perhaps not the environment for partisan electoral politics.” He also reasoned that the small, relatively privileged, student body of Rhodes and the isolation of the economy of Grahamstown meant that students were not faced with the same critical issues as students at other, larger universities and institutions situated in cities. These issues are often related to the location of the university within its greater geographical environment, and the fact that larger universities in bigger towns and cities are not as distanced from the social realities in which they are situated. Efforts to stimulate student interest in these organisations through social media posts and events indicate a low rate of involvement of members in the activities of the societies.

We must gain the trust of students by locating political discourse and where necessary establishing it
- Mthobisi Buthelezi SASCO Chairperson


Worm farms work to make Rhodes greener
By Rosanna McLean Environment The Rhodes University worm farms don’t seem to be a particularly hot topic on campus at the moment. In fact, when a Rhodes student is asked about the Rhodes worm farms, a very confused expression and a question such as, “We have worm farms?” is a far likelier response than hard facts about the project. However, the University does have a number of worm workers busily creating much-needed compost to help keep the grounds and gardens flourishing. Rhodes Safety, Health and Environmental officer Nikki Köhly clarified that there are a number of worm farms on campus. These include worm farms at Calata House, at the Environmental Learning Research Centre and at Köhly’s own office. She said the biggest worm farm at Rhodes is located in the Grounds and Gardens, close to Alec Mullins Sports Hall. It takes up a small corner in the workshop/greenhouse in the Ground and Gardens. RU Green Chairperson Ruth Krüger explained that the worm farm was started in August 2011 by Brett Sutherland who has since graduated from Rhodes University. Under his leadership it grew from one to eight bins. RU Green has picked up the project and is currently responsible for its maintenance. Köhly stated that a small task group is taking care of the project until suitable successors can be put in place to continue managing the worm farm. Krüger commented that worm farms - which consist of bins filled with worms called red wrigglers and organic waste - are a highly useful means of producing compost and fertiliser. “Worms decompose the organic waste and turn it into ‘vermacompost’ that can eventually be harvested,” said Krüger. Additionally she said that the worms’ excretions are filtered through green netting cloth and flow through various taps into collection bottles. “This liquid is called Vermitea and is a great fertiliser,” Kruger explained. Patrick Dowling, a member of South Africa’s Earthworm Interest Group, listed various benefits of worm farming: “A worm farm works well with little care and maintenance. It is cheap and the high value components – the worms – replicate themselves readily, so starting small is no problem. Landfill sites will not fill up so fast and will produce less methane.” He added, “Worm farming is educational and appeals to the imagination which leads to creative environmental thinking.” The Grounds and Garden worm farm was linked to the Nelson Mandela Dining Hall, according to Krüger. However, the worms are being fed vegetable scraps from Fruit and Veg City, which is not ideal as there is a lot of food waste at campus dining halls that could be used instead. Krüger recently attended a “worm summit”, along with the Head of Department of Environmental Science Professor Fred Ellery and Nikki Köhly. Krüger said the meeting included discussions about moving the worm farm closer to the Allen Webb dining hall so that any vegetable scraps could be used. Increased awareness is needed on the environmental benefits of worm farms at Rhodes University. More farms have been started around campus near certain departments in an effort to expand the project.

While SASCO has seen its membership increase slightly, from 64 in 2012 to 83 in 2013, Chairperson Mthobisi Buthelezi admitted that this is a disappointingly low number. “We are aiming for 200 members,” he said. “To do this we must gain the trust of students by locating political discourse and, where necessary, establishing it.” Buthelezi said that SASCO was working towards this goal by fixing many internal structural issues identified last year, including the election of a permanent leadership. He felt that due to the national elections taking place next year and the promised internal improvements to the society, SASCO could very well reach 200 members in 2014. Despite such assertions from its leadership, there is concern and dissatisfaction among some of SASCO’s current members.  A number of members told The Oppidan Press that there had been very little communication this year and that they had found no opportunities to get involved in SASCO as of yet. One member, who wished to remain anonymous, confirmed that he was considering demanding a full refund and deregistration from SASCO. Buthelezi responded to this accusation stating that SASCO send their members emails “only as and when the need arises”. DASO members have also voiced their frustration at the lack of activity from the society. One member, who also requested to remain anonymous, said that she was not seeing the political activity and involvement in the Grahamstown community that DASO had promised when she signed up. Collett’s response was that DASO’s members would be actively involved in future community engagement and dual-society events planned for later this year. “There is so much that we have to take responsibility for outside of our micro-environments,” said Whitfield on the issue of student involvement in greater social development. “Politics is a great way to do so.”


Any students eager to get involved with this venture can contact Ruth Kruger via email:

News Features

23 April 2013

The Oppidan Press



Fighting for the environment starts at university level
By Sibella Louw Environment niversities are the place where students hone their beliefs and values and where individual activism becomes more and more important. According to environmentalists universities are where the environment is being fought for the hardest. This is arguably because students are in the most free and versatile time of their lives and in the most accommodating environment. There are many opportunities available to students, such as societies and groups that allow people to intereract with challenging ideas about how to change the world. It is well known that there are many activist societies at Rhodes, but according to Professor of Computer Science Philip Machanick, who works closely with many environment-related issues both in Grahamstown and abroad, student activism tends to be inconsistent. “You get periods of intense activism, and times when it dies down. Student activists graduate and the next intake of students may not share their enthusiasm,” he said Machanick. Professor Fred Ellery, Head of the Department of Environmental Science and organiser of the Green Fund Run, said that students are a particularly active part of society because, “they are a privileged group of people and in a phase of their lives where they can be quite idealistic about the world and work towards achieving their goals”. He also commented, however, that students could be more involved, as there are also many students who are quite apathetic. Interestingly Ellery feels there are not the expected abundance of environmentalists (environmentally conscious activists) in the Department of Environmental Science. This is a problem, explained Ellery, because “knowledge and attitudes are poorly linked. Students are here to start a career and invariably that career will take them down the path to the biggest income. People get sucked into an economic system that drives them to consume and seduces them to buy and spend, and these are poor values”. Students are more focused on long-term goal planning, rather than current on-the-ground environmental efforts. Machanick believes that a significant proportion of Rhodes students are politically involved because of certain societies that exist here, namely RU Green, Students for Social Justice and the South East African Climate Consortium Student Forum. “There is a strong component of social injustice in environmental concerns,” he elaborated. “Unsustainable consumption of resources is intergenerational injustice and also cuts out the poor from benefits of society.” Sabina Funk, from the committee for the Rhodes Organisation for Animal Rights (ROAR), pointed out that there is a strong connection between factory farming and environmentalism. “According to the United Nations, the meat industry is one of the top three causes of environmental damage and causes more greenhouse gases than all the vehicles in the world combined,” she said. The environmental impact of factory farming in the form of land, air and water pollution is enormous. As just one example, a 2012 report on the impact of the meat industry by Ethan Goffman, an American environmental journalist, accorded the industry 12.5% of annual greenhouse gas emissions. A clean and healthy environment is a human right. It is not just animal rights activists who should be encouraging vegetarianism. In comparison to his experience of Australian universities, Machanick said that Rhodes has more activism societies, as the Australian societies mainly represent the major political parties or focus on service delivery for students. According to Ellery, however, environmental awareness in South Africa is far behind the rest of the world and this is reflected in universities: “Many students in South Africa come from wealthy homes and they then embrace the values of the economic system. If we want to change the world we will have to challenge those values.” Machanick has similar feelings. “Mainstream politicians (not environmentally-conscious ones) have failed to address climate change and are moving far too slowly on renewable energy. In a few decades, well within the lifetime of current students, we will see the costs of this inaction.” Ellery and Machanick do feel environmentalists are not very common, but the numbers seem to be increasing nevertheless. Machanick believes that “students are better placed than the average person to discover things we are not meant to know, and should use that opportunity”. He encouragingly adds that “there is a growing realisation that unsustainable living means stealing from future generations and as a student, that means stealing from you”. Machanick recently gave a lecture on the dangers of fracking and describes it as having been “extremely well-received”. He believes this points towards a general concern amongst the younger generation for certain environmental issues, although when it comes to active involvement in environmental issues, Ellery noted that the real activists are “few and far between” and that most people who show concern for the environment do small and mainly conventional things in support of environmentalism. Small annual protests or occasionally recycling, for example, can hardly be considered activism. He suggests that it would be more beneficial if students applied themselves to local or regional environmental issues, like the plans to build a new golf course outside Grahamstown, which is hypothesised to affect local water and soil quality, or the threat of fracking in the Karoo, which will undoubtedly have devastating effects on the environment, as close as in places like Cradock in the Eastern Cape. If Rhodes students are not to be guilty of ‘slacktivism’ then it remains for them to spread the message of sustainable living and working within their personal and locational capacities to make a difference. If the environment is going to be fought for on university grounds, it does no good to call yourself an activist because you know to separate your paper and plastic.


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AR Drone: what’s the buzz?
By Lethabo Ntshudisane Sci-Tech f you have ever wondered what it would feel like to be in control of an aircraft without a pilot, much like the ones the American Armed Forces uses, then the AR Drone is for you. The AR Drone is a flying device which emulates drones that are used by the United States of America during conflict. It is equipped with two cameras onboard. The main camera faces forward and is an HD 720p camera, while another is located directly below the drone. The AR Drone comes with two shells or covers that can be used for flying indoors or outdoors. The drone also comes with a battery and charger. One of the fascinating things about the drone is that you can use an Android, or Apple smartphone or supported device as a remote control. Unfortunately it does not come with its own remote control, which excludes people who do not own any of these devices from being able to use the AR Drone. In order to use the AR Drone you are required to download the AR Free Flight 2.0 app onto your device. To start using the drone you have to switch it on and then connect to its wireless network which is available as soon as it is switched on. Once your device is connected to the AR Drone’s wireless network you are ready to fly and have some fun. The application’s graphics have a slick look and feel to them. The application’s main window displays the drone’s controls and live stream of what the camera is picking up. From within this main screen you are able to control the drone, take pictures or start recording videos of the drone in flight. You can also make the AR Drone perform flips or just hover in one place. It can fly as high as 100 metres off of the ground. When taking pictures or recording videos the user has two options on how to store this media, either by connecting a USB to the drone where it will store everything or by storing it directly onto the device being used to control the drone. Users are also able to upload all the pictures and videos they have taken straight onto YouTube through the application. Owners of Apple devices get more than their money’s worth as there are AR Drone games available to them


The Oppidan Press 23 April 2013


The AR Drone can be used as a toy or by police as a silent tracker as it comes equipped with a high definition camera. Photo: JOANNA MARX free off iTunes. There are three free games: AR Race 2, AR Rescue 2 and Astro Drone. AR Race 2 is a racing game which can be played in single or multiplayer modes. Competitors race against each other to see who can set the fastest time. Only one AR Drone 2.0 is necessary to play. Overall the AR Drone may be a great gadget but there are some negative factors that cannot be ignored. Firstly the battery fully charged only lasts for approximately +-/ten minutes during flight time. In order to fly the AR Drone you need a lot of open space or it might get stuck in a tree, which is what happened when The Oppidan Press was testing it. Secondly, the outdoor shell is made out of styrofoam which feels fairly cheap and weak. A stronger form of plastic could have been used. The price tag ranges from R3400R3800. This can also be seen as a negative factor, especially if you are living on a student budget. Verdict: The AR Drone 2.0 has many features that can get a person excited but the price tag and limited flight time are also some things to consider before purchasing it. The Oppidan Press Rates the AR Drone 2 out of 5 stars.

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News Features Recycling at Rhodes: is it really worth it?
Paper and plastic are recycled there, but not glass because it is hazardous to the sorters who handle the recyclables. There are various glass deposits on Rhodes University campus which are then educe, Re-use, Recycle.” It’s a recycled by an external company. Soiled materials mantra we hear tossed around all cannot be recycled because they may contamithe time in today’s pro-recycling nate the other recyclables and make the recycled world. But is recycling actually doing that materials harmful or unusable. much for the move towards sustainable living? Angie Thomson has worked with the Masihlule Are the positive benefits of recycling really Project for many years and she acknowledged worth all the efforts and costs involved? With certain problems in its functioning. “At the so many agencies involved, it is worth taking moment there is not a lot going on for various a look at the process as it happens at Rhodes reasons, most of them related to money,” said University and in Grahamstown to see if all the Thomson. “The Masihlule Project was funded by time, effort and resources are worth it. the Government’s Department of Social DevelopThe pitfalls already being experienced with the ment and later by the European Union.” Thomson University’s recycling system are particularly imwas not willing to comment specifically on the portant as the SRC has just implemented the new monetary issues that the project is dealing with.   three-way recycling bin system around campus, Although the Masihlule Project’s efforts are in addition to the two-bag system already operatconcerned with providing jobs and revenue for ing in residences. It remains to be seen whether the local community, the project’s effectiveness this endeavour will be hampered by external could be questioned. According to Krüger, they obstacles as well. have experienced a number of issues with transRhodes does have portation in the past. “They many active forces on are often not very reliable. [Recycling] is the recycling front. The Sometimes they don’t pick certainly a good recycling programme up the recycling at all,” said is run by Mark Hazell Krüger. “Additionally, because practice, but (Head of Grounds and the project is a community conot the ultimate Gardens), Rafeeq Sait operative, they do not [have] a (Refuse, Recycling and lot of resource capacity.” solution Transport Services), If the recycling site is expeNikki Köhly (Rhodes riencing financial strain and - Nikki Köhly Safety, Health and Envibecoming less effective, are the Safety, Health and ronment efforts of people recycling at Environment Officer Officer), RU Green and home or in residence going to the Masihlule Project. waste? It is all well and good to The Masihlule Project is an upliftment prorecycle, but if the recycling process at the dumpgramme in Grahamstown East and Grahamstown site is not effective, then is there a point to it? West. The project hires the underprivileged and The costs - both monetary and environmenunemployed to recycle waste sent to the landfill. tal - involved in the recycling process are also a 31 people have been hired so far. consideration. In terms of financial costs, Rhodes The on-campus recycling scheme works on a University supplies each residence with the destwo-bag system. Student residences and other ignated plastic bags. This costs a fair amount of facilities on campus grounds should be provided money but also raises a question about the logic with orange, yellow or clear bags and black or behind buying large numbers of plastic bags, that blue bags. Any recyclable material should be will have to be recycled, for recycling. Moreover, placed in the orange, yellow or clear bags and any Krüger suggests that the cost and environmental non-recyclables (normal waste) should be placed impact of transporting the recyclables to the in the black or blue bags. These bags are collected dumpsite ought to be considered but there is no and transported to the local Grahamstown landalternative at this point. fill while recyclable material is recycled in the The implementation of this system has also recycling plant.   been called into question. “It is all very well to President of RU Green Ruth Krüger visited ask [students and staff] to support the two-bag the plant last year in September and noted that system but what happens when there is not a everything seemed to be running smoothly. two-bin system [in place]?” asked Köhly. She is By Rosanna McLean Environment

23 April 2013

The Oppidan Press



The new recycling bins at the Kaif are part of Rhodes University’s Waste Management Project. Photo: JOSHUA OATES referring to the actual bins that the bags will be placed into which have been conspicuously absent given the eagerness of many parties to start the programme. “We need this kind of infrastructure in place to help raise better awareness and make participation in the recycling program that much easier,” she said. There are also steps to be considered before recycling. Krüger pointed out that the proclamation is “Reduce, Re-use, Recycle”. She affirmed that reducing consumption is the first and most important step towards sustainability. Any materials (like glass bottles) that can be re-used should be. Recycling is merely the last step in the chain. However, “you have to compare the costs of creating new materials with the costs of recycling old materials to figure out if recycling has a positive impact,”  Krüger said. So where does this leave recycling? Köhly believes that, “[Recycling] is certainly a good practice, but not the ultimate solution.” She adds, “Recycling simply keeps the stuff away from the landfill site for a bit longer. What we really need to do is rethink our wasteful lifestyles and reduce the amount of stuff that we [throw] out.” Recycling serves as a way to hopefully slow down the damage being inflicted on the environment. However, it cannot completely solve the present sustainability issues by itself. A large part of the process must come down to individuals and their own lifestyles and choices.

Big businesses taking care of little Grahamstown
By Christopher Fisher Business There is a rising trend taking place in the business world; companies which acknowledge their corporate social responsibility. These are not only becoming more prominent in our society, but the acknowledgement of these responsibilities is also expected in setting standards for the businesses we support. “Businesses have to take care of society in some way or another,” said student Koketso Molope. The question then is: are businesses in Grahamstown doing all that they can to benefit the community as a whole? Grahamstown Pick n Pay Manager Werner Pienaar seems to think so. The immediate benefit created by Pick n Pay for the Grahamstown community is job creation, with over 90% of the employees coming from the town itself. However, mutually beneficial employment is not the only thing that Pick ‘n Pay has to offer in terms of community engagement. The food giant supports a large number of organisations, including Grahamstown Hospice, an organisation that provides palliative care for its patients. The company also supports a variety of Rhodes University initiatives such as Give 5, a student-run fundraising program. When asked about their position on student employment, Pienaar responded positively, stating that students in the past have made some of the best employees as they are “well spoken and intelligible” with a “wonderful ability to interact with customers”. Woolworths is one corporation that is aiming to be the leader in store responsibility. With their hopes set on sustainability and their “Pledge Green” campaign in full swing, Woolworths’ 80 years of business experience begins to show through their adaptability to society’s demands. Through initiatives such as MySchool, “farming for the future,” and the Paw Print campaign, Woolworths hopes to benefit society wherever possible and as much as possible. Donations to all of these initiatives can be made at the Grahamstown Woolworths. Further showing their willingness to keep up with the times, Woolworths South Africa operates several Twitter accounts and, most impressively, has one dedicated purely to the “good business journey”. As it is stated on their Twitter page, it is an attempt to “make a difference in our communities, our country, and our world”. In 2008, Woolworths achieved a total revenue of over R21 billion. They spent over 22% of this amount on what they call distribution of wealth, which works out to nearly R5 billion. They also distributed surplus product to the value of R239 million. It is not clear however, how much of the above figures directly benefitted the Grahamstown community. So what can students hope to gain from big businesses in Grahamstown? SRC Community Engagement Councilor Thabo Seshoka noted that companies such as Pick ‘n Pay and Steers donate money and support different initiatives within the university, but notes that “it happens in the background”, and that not many students are aware of it. Pick n Pay achieves an annual turnover of R55.3 billion. The idea of what exact social responsibility falls on a company is relative. Student Lauren Jean Connor said that businesses should be bound to corporate responsibility: “Yes they do, because they are benefitting from the community and they need to give back.”



The Oppidan Press 23 April 2013

The concerns of activism, apathy and the apolitical appear to be high on the agenda in this edition of The Oppidan Press. Questions regarding the role, or lack thereof, of students within organisations geared at combating social issues is of growing concern, as it is always imagined that university provides the platform for the development and growth of the free thinkers and intellectuals of the future. This edition investigations questions of student involvement in areas such as politics and the environment. This raises interesting discussions around the responsibilities that should be placed on students and the organisations themselves. Yet it is important that individuals locate their own sentiments towards involvement, or lack thereof, in the context of this phenomenon. Nevertheless, a resolution of these conundrums is certainly difficult to identify. One can, if in doubt, call upon the old favourite, student apathy, but even this supposed solution leaves one dissatisfied. The answer that “students just don’t care” is no longer acceptable, not only in the sense that it has been used as the go-to excuse to ease failure on the part of organisations to fulfil their mandates, but because it is, to our minds, no longer a satisfactory attitude. As students in university, the question of indifference needs to be investigated with greater indignation. If one then shelves apathy for the time being and searches for a deeper understanding, what might one find? One sees movements such as the Silent Protest, which took place on Friday, 19 April, which brought Rhodes activism to the ears and eyes of individuals all over the country. While the 1500 individuals who spent the day in silence as a sign of solidarity with rape survivors should be commended, some of them should also be questioned. Protests such as the Silent Protest are important in that they aim to create awareness and convey messages and yet they are often the exact instances through which individuals claim to be participating as active members against societal violence. Admirable as it is, does one day of protesting provide one with the title of “activist”? A similar point may has been raised by The Oppidan Press concerning Nelson Mandela Day and the 67 minutes in which one gives back to the community and through doing so, commends themselves on being an active contributor to some of South Africa’s most desperate socio-economic issues. One might then argue that it is not student apathy that concerns us most, but a lack of commitment to an ideal by the younger generations. Generalisations are dangerous, but it would appear that a trend of slacktivism is gripping the student population. All activism, in any form, has merit, but it is inherently problematic when individuals use isolated instances to claim recognition for titles that require substantially more dedication to their cause.

Illustration: AMY SLATEM

Apathetic or apolitical: a new (revolution)
By Andrew Tudhope


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The Oppidan Press publishes letter that are bona fide expressions of opinion as long as they are not clearly libellous, defamatory, racist or sexist. We publish anonymous letters, but as an act of good faith in your part, we require your full name. We reserve the right to shorten letters due to space constraints and to edit them for grammatical inaccuracies. Letters that do not make it into our print edition will be published on our website.

acial tension has been reported by the mainstream media as being steadily on the increase at tertiary education institutions across the country. One need only think of the initiation video debacle at University of the Free State two years ago to realise that the recent outbreak of racial tension at the University of Cape Town is anything but a localised phenomenon. After an SRC election that was soiled by allegations of unfair outside involvement and over-spending and the recent “which race is more attractive?” fiasco, students in Cape Town seem to be increasingly divided down South African Students Congress (SASCO) and Democratic Alliance Students Organization (DASO) lines. Unsurprisingly, the outlook seems bleak. While students in Cape Town are getting on their social media soapboxes, interim chairperson of DASO Rhodes Keenan Collett, says only 22 students are registered with the society. Chairperson of SASCO Rhodes Mthobisi Buthelezi reported a more impressive 83 students registered with them this year. Is this ‘student apathy’ manifesting on campus once more? Are Rhodes students simply too drunk and too isolated from the realities of this country to care about something as seemingly removed from our situation as politics? There are certainly those for whom the answer to the above questions is ‘yes’, but to leave it at that is to miss an entire trend that may be developing in our generation. The fact is that I am not affiliated with a political organisation. I have written before, with much vitriol and venom, about student apathy at Rhodes, but there has always been something nagging away at me which comes to the fore when we examine the question of political affiliation. I find the thought of joining DASO or SASCO extremely distasteful. Neither of the parties really inspires me or encapsulates my beliefs. In our parent’s generation, one would join a political party which could and did define who one was in the context of greater society. When there was still something as definite as the downfall of apartheid for which to fight, political parties still embodied a certain morality and way of being that one could adopt upon becoming a member of that party. So, if you were as liberal as some of the students now at Rhodes, you could join the ANC and fight for all the things which sounded so terribly grand, such as freedom, equality and justice. “Hopes grotesquely betrayed and ideals caricatured – that is the definition of revolutionary success” wrote Joseph Conrad. He might have been a little too pessimistic in this context, but he makes a good point. One cannot, with a soundly liberal mindset, join the ANC now. After Andries Tatane, Marikana and the rocketing corruption which infests almost every level of what some believe to be the  now-bureaucratic

political machine that is the ANC, one might well ask what is left in which to believe. The DA have a slightly better record, but they have not shown themselves to be above the sordid squabbles which affect the worst of ANC leadership. Certain groups, such as the exploited farm workers in the Western Cape, are no more happy with them than liberals might be with the ANC. Political parties no longer espouse a clear ethos, no longer stand for an entire way of living life and defining community. They seem to be far more interested in personal gain and winning one over the opposition than they are in making life better for their electorate. While I certainly do not believe that it is time for us to ‘get over racism’ (a sentiment I have often heard expressed in private company), political parties can no longer do for us what they did for our parents. We have no revolution for which to fight, nor any mass uprising to unite the consistently more disillusioned populace. Ours is a completely new form of revolution and is one which could never be won on the streets of Soweto; could never be negotiated over the conference tables at the World Trade Centre. There seems to be no political party that can unite us and apparently no inspirational leadership to be found when we most need it. Ours is, if anything, a revolution of the mind. Racism found its home in the colonial mindset – any History 101 student will tell you that. It then became politicised in South Africa and so we required a political uprising to counteract that. In this, our parents’ generation was successful in the most spectacular and miraculous manner. While the political part of racism is over – we need now to change the original mind-set which led to it. Marching down the streets, waving platitudinous placards won’t win this revolution, but stopping outside Peppergrove and at least interacting with the street-child there, no matter what your view on hand-outs, or greeting as an equal the man who plays guitar on the corner of New Street and Somerset might just start the process, however slow it proves to be. So, I say don’t join a political society at Rhodes, don’t lend your support to organisations which have shown themselves, time and again, not to be able to move past racially motivated and sometimes plainly racist discourse, but do it in the knowledge of what you’re doing. Forget the politics and concentrate on being the sort of person that you think might make this country a better place. The youth of 1976 marched for fairer education; we now have to use what they fought for to be better than they were. And to differ from what they were. I am a young person who would far rather vote for an FNB advert campaign than for a political party and, for the first time, I’m not ashamed of that. At least FNB highlights the possibility and hope that can be generated in this country through unity instead of constantly showing how different we all are.

23 April 2013


The Oppidan Press


The fact that we live in a society that commends rape survivors who disclose their experience means that we live in a society which expects them to be silenced


The Silent Protest: a question of bravery?
By Tarryn de Kock n this country, you have a better chance of being raped than learning to read.” It was probably 11 degrees outside, but this statistic my friends were discussing that led me to huddle closer and cover myself from some unseen threat. We had just finished the march to the main administration building that starts off every Silent Protest. We were eagerly waiting for the Kaif to open so that we could get warm drinks, but in the midst of this, I felt overwhelmingly isolated, despite being surrounded by kind, loving people. Isolation is a reality that many of the other rape survivors I spoke to understand very well. It is why the protest speaks out against rape and its effect on individuals and communities. The Silent Protest t-shirts have text printed on the back, saying things such as, “Rape limits human potential. It silences people.” This silencing is more than just rape survivors keeping their experiences a secret: it is the isolation that comes from having the most intimate, personal part of yourself violated and losing control over your own body. It is the feeling of being in a room full of supportive people and knowing that none of them will ever fully understand your pain because they have not experienced what you have, and that because of what you have experienced you would never want them to understand. Being on campus was a surreal experience. I was surrounded by people in purple, who braved the cold to tape their mouths in solidarity with those who had been silenced by sexual violence. I was also surrounded by confused, bemused, apathetic, sympathetic and sometimes antagonistic people, some of whom made inappropriate comments to my friends and fellow protestors. It happens every year: some would-be alpha male will approach a protestor – usually taped – and pass a comment such as, “If I raped you now you wouldn’t be able to scream.” This attitude prevails all over campus and in the greater Grahamstown area. This is problematic, because it trivialises the idea of rape into violent sex that is a turn-on for the aggressor and terrifying for the victim. It is problematic because the same men who think this way would probably be reduced to tears if they were told that their mother, sister, or girlfriend had been a victim of sexual violence. I walked into town to go to a friend’s for a while and the leering I received made me feel more vulnerable than ever. I drew my scarf closer and pulled it down over the ‘Rape Survivor’ logo I wore. I walked with a friend and saw a woman try to look back as she passed me in her car, attempting to read what the shirt said. It was frightening that for this one day I had become just this – a rape survivor, a victim of rape, violated, used, dirty, “damaged goods” as I have once been referred to. I avoided the die-in because I had been having flashbacks for weeks and I did not want to be trapped in my head any longer, especially not on this day. Many people came up to me to tell me how brave or inspirational I was by wearing the shirt and sharing my experience at the debriefing. I had no idea how to feel about that. The fact that we live in a society that commends rape survivors who disclose their experience means that we live in a society which expects them to be silenced. When someone does something brave, it usually means that they were at some risk or in some danger. Why should I feel endangered by telling my story? Why should I be pulling my scarf down to hide the truth from people who would rather not know? Sex is intimate and personal. Rape is not. Rape is a social illness and can only be solved once people understand this fact and work towards eradicating it. The perpetuation of rape culture makes it difficult to imagine how this would happen, but I am hopeful that it will. It is not acceptable to tell someone they “deserved” to be raped because they wore a short skirt or walked in town at four in the morning drunk out of their minds. Don’t blame victims – survivors – because in my view, there are hurt, scarred, damaged people out there who are so broken that they want to feel whole by taking away the wholeness of another. My personal choices have nothing to do with whether I get raped or not. I do not want to live in a society that tells me to behave nicely and try not to get raped. I want to live in a society that tells men – and women – not to rape. What happened to me will always be a part of who I am because it has had undeniable effects on how I behave towards the people in my life and those all around me. It is hurtful hearing how many of my loved ones have been violated and it has to stop. It starts with knowing what rape is and not believing in “degrees of rape”. All rape is harmful and hurtful, whether brutal and prolonged abuse as a child, or having your boyfriend force himself on you in your bedroom. It starts with not vilifying girls who were raped on nights out. It does not matter if a girl lies black-out drunk in a gutter, naked and incoherent it still does not justify blaming her for being raped. Saying no once is enough for someone to stop. If they do not it is rape. If you did not consent, were unable to say anything or defend yourself, it is most certainly rape.


Photo Feature


The Oppidan Press 23 April 2013

On Friday, 19 April 2013, the annual Silent Protest took place on the Rhodes University campus. An estimated 1500 individuals participated in the protest, braving the cold and the rain to stand in silence and solidarity with rape survivors. The protest which began seven years ago, hosting with a mere 80 participants, has grown to attract nation wide attention and aims to raise awareness about rape in South Africa. Photos by Charles Mackenzie, Michelle Cunliffe and Joshua Oates

Arts & Entertainment
A different In the end, it’s all about the route
By Thabiso Mafana Cube Route is an initiative started by artists, for artists. There is no need to go to a specific gallery; instead the gallery is brought to you. This change is the perception of art as a whole and includes students who do not have the opportunity to go and view a gallery everyday. Cube Route can, and has, changed the notion of a gallery as is constructed by our society. Cube Route is a mobile gallery that travels around South Africa, starting in Johannesburg and ending in Cape Town. Artists and art lovers who would not otherwise get a chance to go to galleries due to distance or finances can now do so thanks to Cube Route. Instead of you going to Cube Route, Cube Route comes to you. The facilitators Io Makandal, Grace Cross and Jessie Hammond, from the artist collective Open Drawers Project, have taken the archetypal exhibition space of an art gallery and given it wheels to travel cross-country. They have re-appropriated the gallery in alternative contexts and communities within South Africa. The Cube Route project is focused on questioning the irregular changing contexts in our societies and is aimed at examining the evolutionary patterns that occur within the diverse country of South Africa. It interacts with a large and diverse audience and challenges the dogmatic principles that are constructed in the art world. Cube Route’s versatility allows it to adapt to many different genres and heritage in different environments, both politically and socially. The mobile gallery has many functions including a studio, theatre, vehicle, kitchen, classroom, and printing press as well as a home for all its organisers. It has been to places around South Africa such as Hazyview, Johannesburg, the Voortrekker Monument, Mthatha, Hamburg, Keiskamma, Durban and Grahamstown. It will continue to tour the entire country and it may even go international in the near future. They will be announcing their arrival in Grahamstown later this week, so keep an eye on for more details.

23 April 2013

The Oppidan Press


By Jessica van Tonder


he is described by many as having a sultry, mesmorising voice that stirs the emotions. She is influenced by the likes of Johnny Cash, Janis Joplin and Tracey Chapman. This is Luna Paige, a Cape Town based singer and song writer who has been performing for the last 10 years. She has produced three albums, as well as having various releases on compilation albums. During the second act, Gerald Clark has stepped out of his musical boundaries and produced an acoustic Afrikaans album “Sweepslag” (Whiplash) which was nominated as the best Afrikaans Alternative Music Album at the 2009 SAMA (South African Music Awards). Although he plays around with different genres of music such as country, he said, “My feet will always be firmly planted in the blues, it is the base to all the music I have, and will always be my first love.” The inspiration for his music is dominated by local artists such as Albert Frost, Van Coke Kartel and Fokofpolisiekar. Grahamstown saw the duo perform an intimate show at The Lowlander on 17 April. The close setting of the show allowed Paige to open up to the thought process which made the songs. “This song is about all the times that you feel like you just do not know what is going on in your relationship,” she said. Her vocals moved the crowd, silencing them and allowing for the movement of her music. Clark and Paige have been performing together throughout the year. “We try to make the shows as enjoyable as possible, integrating the blues with Clark’s country, yet at the same time making sure we are always able to relate back to the crowd,” Paige commented. Gerald Clark released his new video “Black Water” in December 2012. “Black Water” was written a few years ago but it never got to the place where it is now. “I’ve recorded it twice but it didn’t have what the song needed,” said Clark. “I feel I nailed it with this recording. The theme coils around my encounter with a beautiful woman and that moment when I realised how dangerously strong that addiction could be,” he added. If you missed the show this time, be sure to catch them later in the year as they storm through Grahamstown once more.

Gerald Clark performed at The Lowlander on Wednesday 17 April. Photo: GILLIAN COETZEE

Innovations 2013: they say I’m a dreamer
By Brendon Peel Have you ever had a dream of surreal occurrences? Reality is tilted in the balance as your mind is suspended in disbelief. If you have not experienced such a profound state of mind, then this year’s dream-themed Innovations show was guaranteed take you there. The show connected to the audience through a series of short acts, each with its affinity to astound and capture the audience in more ways than one. Dreams can be literal or abstract and with a wide range of acts at Innovations, there is an opportunity to examine and every type of dream there is. Students from all disciplines are invited to showcase their talent. All the pieces seen in the show have had directing input from the Innovations Committee resulting in only the most talented, creative and unusual items being left for the audience to enjoy. “Last year’s show was a bit arb, but this year I really appreciated the art of it,” said Tshidi Ramabu. “Innovations is guaranteed to innovate your soul in an hour of complete pleasure, in viewing talented performers express their unique talents. It’s a show that contains multiple genres of performance,” said performer Laurie Todes about this year’s Innovations. “Prepare to be captivated and entertained,” she continued. There has been much anticipation around Innovations 2013. This year’s show is filled with young and energetic talent across all years of the Drama Department and a few other faculties as well- the piece is open to anyone from the student body. The show consists of a combination of singing, dancing, acting, multi-media art, comedy and even a bit of magic, creating a wondrous dream-like journey for spectators through out all of the nine individual showpieces. “I can’t wait to see what Innovations holds this year,” said drama enthusiast Johann Harmse. Every year the Innovations show aims to create a new experience for viewers and this year is no exception, as talents of all forms were revealed to the audience. The show has developed into many different forms over the last few years and it seems that it will continue to do so.

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Arts & Entertainment
Gigging in Grahamstown
The One Art festival aimed to showcase all of the town’s local live talent
By Charles Mackenzie amiliar faces adorned Champs Action Bar. These were the regular supporters, the die-hard fans. Only when the main live acts began to play would the rest of the crowd join in. They were all here to see the One Art festival. An initiative led and coorganised by Grahamstown locals Justin Shaw and Blah Ze Blah, One Art aimed to showcase and promote Grahamstown’s live talent at both The Monastry and Champs Action Bar.   Champs seems to be the perfect venue for live, instrument-based musicians and artists, as its small dance floor and stage creates a more intimate environment to listen and dance to music. Yet this was no mosh-pit scenario. The cosy venue was packed with people sitting at tables who were listening intently. Marco X warmed up the crowd with his homegrown raps, accompanied by some familiar beats. Not long after this Maude Sandham and Dave Glover took the stage, impressing the audience with a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” as well as a few of their own compositions. Another change of pace occurred when vocalist Gugulethu Mkize came on with her partner, bass guitarist Troy Rist, and an almost operatic voice that seemed to find a home in every pitch and melody. Many more local artists took the stage before and after, yet one thing that most had in common was a poor understanding of stage etiquette. After each song, artists would excessively plug on into their next, as if it were an advert. Instead of focusing on their sound and performance, too many felt the need to overadvertise their image. One act even launched into a long-winded nonsensical background story for every song. At first this was harmless, but as each artist began to advertise himself it became too overwhelming. Not only did it detract from the message of the festival to promote all local artists in one setting, it also very often led to the artist forgetting the potency of their music. If their performance was strong enough, audience members would find a way to buy into the music and listen to it. It is not to say that the way the performers acted was wrong or unusual, but it took valuable time that the artists should have rather focused on their performances. One of the event organisers, Blah Ze Blah, had the following to say: “The event was most definitely considered a success as we had more than 300 people who attended. It was also great to see so many people respond to the event, especially since it consisted of nothing but live music.” One Art therefore achieved its purpose: attendance was tremendous and the lineup for both events was at full capacity. Yet there is still room for improvement and so one can only anticipate the next event. Blah Ze Blah hopes to expand the musical horizons of Grahamstown, and claims that there are many forthcoming projects in progress. Check out OppiTV for the news segment on One Art. watch?v=rxCino5GI5c


The Oppidan Press 23 April 2013


The One Art music festival took place on 13 April 2013 at Champs and the MonAstry, presenting some of Grahamstown’s live performers including Maude Sandham (TOP) and Gugulethu Mkhize (BOTTOM). Photos: CHARLES MACKENZIE

Champs seems to be the perfect venue for live, instrument-based musicians and artists

Arts & Entertainment

23 April 2013

The Oppidan Press


Worm farms unearthed at Rhodes

Gender violence: a call for action
see page 5

Pick-pocketing prevails
see page 4

By Azarrah Karim and Mthabisi Sithole

see page 6

Cleaning up the field


efereeing in the Rhodes Internal Soccer League matches has become a topic of much discussion among players and spectators, who have complained about the general standard of refereeing and the lack of professional linesmen during league and cup games. Bad referee decisions can extinguish the spirit of ‘the beautiful game’ and put the players in danger. If a referee does not send off a player who is rowdy or disruptive, that player may gravely injure an opponent. In the coming weeks each referee for the Internal League will be required to undergo a two-week course that will ensure they make better decisions. Daniel Hill, a player from De Beers residence, said “This affects the games in the sense that the result may not be fair in some cases.” He added, “when it comes to winning the league or a match, as a player, you certainly want to know you’ve done so because you were the best team and that you and your teammates have earned it, not because of a referee’s favourite”. Manager of the Allan Webb team Jonis Ghedi-Alasow described the referee of their match against Kunzai

Dlamini Football Club as “competent” but added that although this might be the case, “the one [referee] at our Monday (15 April) match this week was far less so; he barely ran on the field and simply remained not far from the centre of the field throughout the game. Most of the time he was too far from the action to make the right decisions. This was a problem, not only for us but also for our opponents”. Daniel Brushfield-Smith, a defender for De Beers, spoke about the referee who oversaw their match against Rhodes Staff saying, “I feel they could have done a little bit better as there were a few calls he should have made which he didn’t.” He went on to say, however, that “this particular ref was better than some of our previous refs”. For the last two years Sports Administration office has been inundated with complaints from players and supporters about the lack of expertise and professionalism among the Internal League referees. The Oppidan Press was able to get further insight into what was to be done by asking Sanelisiwe Sobahle, a Sports Officer for soccer at Sports Administration. “As of late, we’ve been using refs from last year who were actually not trained by us. Now what we want to do is take those refs and put them through a FIFA accredited course for

referees,”  she said. The two-week course will adjourn with a series of tests which would take place within the forthcoming weeks. Referee Simphiwe Gumede, who is also a student at Rhodes, said that he took a refereeing course at Rhodes last year and that he gets paid to referee games. He said, “I can’t speak for individual refs, but personally I do the best I can. A lot of the time when these complaints come, they are from the team who has lost,” he added. Gumede also spoke about the lack of linesmen, saying that he tries to make the game as fair as possible by appointing a linesman from teams so that there is no bias. However, there are no professional linesmen at any games. “I still feel that we should have linesmen at these matches,”  GhediAlasow said. “It is difficult to control the match with only one official, considering that there is no way that the referee can take note of everything that happens.” He added, “If each player needs to pay R100 to join Rhodes soccer, and one multiplies this by the number of people who play in the Internal League, then I am sure that the league coordinators can afford to employ linesmen at the matches.”


Squash Internal League set to take off
By Mthabisi Sithole In response to a growing interest, the Rhodes University Squash Club has decided to start an Internal Squash League. While Grahamstown already boasts the Makana Squash League, this only has the capacity for six to seven teams. The proposed new internal league would consist of six teams but would be exclusive to Rhodes students and staff. With the RU Squash Club consisting of over 80 members there is only a small chance to play in  the Makana League, as a limited number of teams are taken from Rhodes.  The proposed league would see enthusiasts and members of the Squash Club getting a chance to play competitively with their peers. The point of this league is to get players involved in competitive squash and hopefully help them improve and move on to other leagues. Another reason for the initiation of the league is the length of time of the Makana Squash League, which takes place between April and September, so the five-week-long internal league is a better alternative for students. The league is set to start in the near future, with the first games scheduled for 22 April. To date there has been keen interest with teams signing up, namely those from Adamson and Botha Houses. Having a pre-made team is not necessary to join the league, as individuals will be grouped into composite teams with others. The league is not only about competition as, while the games are scheduled to take place, on Wednesday evenings, there is training available from Monday to Thursday. Chairman of the Squash Club, Brendon Martens, explained that the club was willing to train its players at three different levels, depending on an individual’s level of play. However he mentioned that “for people to be able to attend training sessions, they must be members,” as being a part of the league does not guarantee membership. The club hosted a Rhodes Squash tournament that ran from 19 to 21 April. This annual event boasted the attendance of some of South Africa’s more prominent Squash players. For a report on the tournament, see our online section at