I was appalled when I read yesterday’s edition of Activate. The front page had a poll “Would you go to Fort Hare for Tri-Varsity?” In my view it was quite improper to ask that question. It needed not to be asked in the first place. I view this as a race and class issue. Race in a sense that some among us still view blacks as incapable of hosting an event of such magnitude (this was an implicit argument expressed by the newspaper). We have seen manifestations of such stereotypes on this campus. Secondly, it is a class issue because it perpetuates stereotypes that, because Fort Hare is a historically black and impoverished institution, it is not good enough to host Tri-Varsity, that it doesn’t have infrastructural capacity to stage this event beyond it being predominantly black. It also attempts to shape the attitude of the student populace that going to Alice might be risky and that the event will be a definite failure. In fact this is a Tri-Varsity not a Bi-Varsity, if there is such a word. It can’t be that it is a Tri-Varsity and you exclude one institution on the basis of its economic status and racial composition. The student body deserves an explanation!
Head of Research and Policy Unit of SASCO at Rhodes University
Response from Editor:
You have brought up an interesting issue, one which Activate had not thought of. When we wrote that poll, we were simply looking to respond to the logistics surrounding this upcoming Tri-Varsity, mainly the issue of whether students could find enough accommodation and whether it would be a good idea for students to travel two hours in the dark back to Grahamstown. Firstly, let me say that in my capacity as editor of Activate I would like to see Fort Hare host this event; they have not yet been afforded the chance and I think they deserve it. However, just because they have an impoverished background this should not be seen as grounds to ignore logistical issues. If anything we should be talking about it more to ensure that we can sort out any potential problems and make Fort Hare hosting Tri-Varsity this year a reality. I would have hoped that our article on the front page was sufficient to contextualise the poll, however your response indicates otherwise. I hope this response clears things up. If race and class is still an issue with regards to this topic I do not think we should ignore these issues. As a student newspaper it is our duty to act as a platform for debate. The only way to resolve issues is to deal with them. Although the poll had not intended to look at class or race, it was placed to generate debate and it appears to have fulfilled that role.
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