By Sian Cohen
The ‘Zero Tolerance’ petition emailed to students during Pride Week received a controversial reply from student David de Bruyn. The petition called for the implementation of a university policy regarding hate crimes, homophobia and any such displays of discrimination. President of OutRhodes, Faith Bosworth, asked Ricardo Pillay, OutRhodes secretary, to send the email on behalf of OutRhodes. De Bruyn e-mailed Pillay, saying, “Please don’t waste my time by sending me this junk mail,” and, “I will now discriminate even more, especially regarding anyone from the OutRhodes.”
De Bruyn’s response was printed and put up around campus by Bosworth. De Bruyn said his reply was directed at Pillay, not OutRhodes. “[I] was hoping [Pillay] would realise he was abusing his position,” he said. Pillay was the SRC Media Representative at the time. “I’ve been pinned as the ‘gay hater’,” he said, “the fact that it’s my name, that’s really unfair”.
“The email was from OutRhodes, so the reply was to OutRhodes,” said Bosworth. She went on to say that OutRhodes is a public society, meaning students were entitled to seeing the contents of De Bruyn’s email.
De Bruyn says, “It’s not like I’m going around hating people just because they’re gay.” He also finds it ironic and says, “The society that is trying to prevent public discrimination is now getting everyone to discriminate against [me].” He is seeking legal advice. During the Pride Week a cupboard placed in the quad for people to express themselves was vandalised. “It was an open forum, we expected as much” says Bosworth. Pillay says the vandalism reflects the misconception that Rhodes is a truly liberal university.
“This incident in particular shows how Rhodes University is in need of an effective policy” says Bosworth. In reaction to religious conflicts during Pride Week, student Nina Bekink displayed photographs of a gay couple taken in front of the cathedral, at the Rhodes library. This aimed to address the tension of having Pride Week and Christian at Rhodes Week coinciding. “We can’t use religion to justify discrimination,”said Benkink.