...if you'll pardon the redundancy in that title.
On 22 April 2005 - almost exactly 10 years ago - the then Chair of Council, Mr Geoff Budlender, chaired a meeting between the Senior Leadership Group and a broad alliance of staff and student structures comprising the Academics Assocation (now Union), the Employees Union, the Black Staff Assocation, NEHAWU - UCT, the Black Caucus, and the SRC. The Alliance had tabled a document ahead of the meeting, and presented several proposals for consideration and response "within a reasonable timeframe". The response is attached, below.
The meeting was about the lack of progress on Transformation. Specific issues were raised regarding Employment Equity, student equity, and resourcing for Transformation. Proposals made by the Alliance related to:
Further to the discussion of "those figures", a bit more information showing not only the figures from 2006 but also the projected targets presented in that report. The most recent projections were for 2010 - five years ago.
The figures below have been circulating on Twitter. Reporting the numbers of staff on Academic Conditions of Employment, ranks Senior Lecturer and above, they are broken down by "race" and gender (though the numbers don't add up - try it!) What is evident is that, at senior lecturer level, white women outnumber white men, and "coloured" women outnumber "coloured" men - possibly the effect of modest Employment Equity efforts - but at other ranks, and among all other groups, men continue to outnumber women (2.67 times, at the rank of full professor). When it comes to "race", the figures are stark. Read them and weep!
On 9 March I was on Campus, returning a book to the Library. I failed to notice a monumental event taking place elsewhere on Campus, and returned to my purloined parking up at... Rhodes Mem, blisfully unaware until I saw the reports later on the Internet.
Responses have been, predictably, mixed - the occupation of Bremner has drawn support from both on and off Campus; the letters pages of the local papers overflowing with heated sentiment both supportive and outraged; and the boards set up around campus to invite response have solicited penis doodles, unbridled racism, and outpourings of untempered emotion. This was a rupture long in coming - no amount of Khuluma or Mamela nor any number of Climate Surveys could have contained the depth or breadth of hurt and emotivity unleashed by Maxwele's faeces flinging.
It seems that everyone, who has ever had anything to do with UCT (including merely driving past it on the M3) has an opinion to offer - even if, in the case of some staff blogs, that opinion is vacuous equivocation - and the media have fallen upon this with glee. UCT sells papers.
While the Rhodes statue has provided a convenient flashpoint, the issues are themselves not new, and claims that the complaint has not surfaced previously are disingenuous - there were countless complaints about the naming of buildings, for example, or the composition of the staff and student body, the institutional climate / culture, the normalised whiteness and middle-classness that excludes so many of those who study or work there.
The Campus does not need its own statue of Rhodes. It is already towered over by the massive monument that dominates the skyline, and those who seek to commemorate his contribution have only to look upward to be reminded. The UCT statue is not only redundant, it is also offensive in its placing and its lack of context. It does need to go - and the suggestion of rehousing it at Rhodes Cottage Museum in Muizenberg strikes me as a sensible compromise.
But while the statue is offensive in its own right, it is merely an indicator of far bigger issues, which have been left to fester far too long. Symbols are merely one aspect of that - and I hope that this action, and the response it has garnered, will be sustained beyond the relocation of one block of rock so that the threat inscribed on CJR's other memorial does not continue to hold sway:
THE IMMENSE AND
LIVING HE WAS THE
LAND AND DEAD
HIS SOUL SHALL BE
It is time to break his control, to sever the link between his soul and the soul of our land, and our Campus.
I recently presented a paper at HECU5. It was a truly strange experience, for a number of reasons. I was employed at the time at the hosting institution - Lancaster University - as I had been employed at the time of HECU4 by the hosting institution - UCT. However, back then, conference presentation was not deemed fit for the likes of that which I was then - the silenced subalterns, whose muteness formed the topic of my HECU5 presentation.
Subalterns cannot speak, Spivak argues, because the hegemonic discourse renders them mute. In order to find a voice, they need to violate their subalternity. Spivak argues that the subaltern cannot speak; my paper - a meta-reflection based on the research I'd conducted for my M.Ed thesis - argued that, even when they acquire this foreign, dominant discourse, they still may not speak. Their subaltern accents give them away, and their voices cannot be heard.
Revisiting data collected at UCT from (former) colleagues, I found myself presenting on my new "home ground" to former colleagues from my former "home ground" about issues that were now more theirs than mine, re/presenting silenced voices (many long since gone) in my own (since gone) voice, silenced from those same corridors that once silenced theirs. Surrounded by familiar foreigners, I was at once familiar and foreign, addressing issues both foreign and familiar.
As a disciplinary bergie, I used to see my role as some kind of discursive broker, a boundary spanner, translating between paradigms and practices and consciousnesses in a landscape where additional dimensions could not be comprehended, far less tolerated. Others saw me, perhaps, as a different kind of spanner - the one that jams up the works...
Last week, shocking revelations concerning the activities of ANC Youth League Spokesperson Nyiko Floyd Shivambu came to the fore. According to a letter published in various news outlets, a complaint was laid by 19 political journalists with the secretary-general of the ANC, against Shivambu. This complaint letter detailed attempts by Shivambu to leak a dossier to certain journalists, purporting to expose the money-laundering practices of Dumisane Lubisi, a journalist at City Press. The letter also detailed the intimidation that followed when these journalists refused to publish these revelations.
We condemn in the strongest possible terms the reprisals against journalists by Shivambu. His actions constitute a blatant attack on media freedom and a grave infringement on constitutional rights. It is a disturbing step towards dictatorial rule in South Africa.
We call on the ANC and the ANC Youth League to distance themselves from the actions of Shivambu. The media have, time and again, been a vital democratic safeguard by exposing the actions of individuals who have abused their positions of power for personal and political gain.
The press have played a vital role in the liberation struggle, operating under difficult and often dangerous conditions to document some of the most crucial moments in the struggle against apartheid. It is therefore distressing to note that certain people within the ruling party are willing to maliciously target journalists by invading their privacy and threatening their colleagues in a bid to silence them in their legitimate work.
We also note the breathtaking hubris displayed by Shivambu and ANC Youth League President Julius Malema in their response to the letter of complaint. Shivambu and Malema clearly have no respect for the media and the rights afforded to the media by the Constitution of South Africa. Such a response serves only to reinforce the position that the motive for leaking the so-called dossier was not a legitimate concern, but an insolent effort to intimidate and bully a journalist who had exposed embarrassing information about the youth league president.
We urge the ANC as a whole to reaffirm its commitment to media freedom and other constitutional rights we enjoy as a country.
Workplace bullying is something many of us have lived through, but a convenient myth allows people to assume that academics are colleagial towards one another, except when it comes to finding parking space in University Avenue or the last chocolate croissant at Kwencha.
But even academics can be subject to bullying - as this account illustrates. While the "victim" is clearly not blameless, as her attitude demonstrates, the increasing powerlessness she feels as the situation worsens is familiar to anyone who experienced harassment in the workplace.
Policies are usually unambivalent on such matters, but facts seldom are. How behaviour is intended and how it is received can differ substantively, and when comments are made - and heard - context is critical. Power dynamics - inherent, background or internalised - matter. Often, it is simply easier to leave a toxic situation than to invoke justice.
With the academics having finally accepted their status as employees of the University and not colleagues, even they are now unionised and covered by the protection of the Act. If you feel you are being bullied in the workplace, speak to your union.
There is something disturbingly familiar about David Cameron, the Tory leader widely tipped to win the forthcoming UK elections. It's not just that he's virtually indistinguishable from Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats widely tipped to face a life of obscurity before and after the election - so that any coverage of "the three main parties" sears a Cameronesque image onto the brain in stereo. It's this nasty lurking feeling that I've lived through this before.
Much was made in last night's "Cameron Uncovered" of his being modelled on Tony Blair, only with an equine wife instead of a shrew, but it was another Tony he reminded me of. Is there anybody out there who still remembers Tony Leon?
Like Cameron (an old Etonian), Leon was privately schooled (at Kearsney College), and both went on to local eilte universities (Cameron to Oxford, Leon to Wits). Both built political careers on their "fresh, youthful" demeanour, and both have flirted very briefly with new media to reinforce an image of coolth (Webcameron in Cameron's case, and a podcast in Leon's). Politically their positioning has been identical - centre-right, though trying to emphasise the "centre" and smuggle the "right" aspect in clothed in affability. Both achieved notoriety as leaders of the opposition, building their political profiles through throwing stones at government policy rather than through having any solid, viable policies of their own. And both are most famous for airbrushed election posters - Cameron and Leon both attempting to laugh it off when confronted on it.
It's even possible that they met - they shared an opposition to sanctions against apartheid South Africa, both representing "business-and-wealth"-favouring parties, and Cameron accepted an invitation to apartheid SA under the Botha regime which was cosying up to foreign delegates, though they would not have had the opportunity to compare notes on dealing with Iron Ladies, as Leon's successor, modelled on Cameron's antecedent, had not yet risen to notoriety back then.
Does this make Cameron a chihuahua too?
One of my research interests is how our behaviour gets nudged along in certain ways by technology - and the wonderful world of social networking is replete with opportunities. Some of you may have heard about the recent BBC series on the "Virtual Revolution" - if you can find a UK-based IP proxy, take a look, as the website has some wonderful interviews and other material. The almost-computer generated host (Dr Aleks, whose PhD was about 5 minutes old when they did the credits) feeds the usual paranoia about "digital footprints" that, apocryphally, the young and drunken leave behind to trash any future prospects they may have of landing a grown-up job in anything except advertising, but aside from that it does surface the debate around "the cost of free" and many of the issues that are obvious to those of us who use these media, but may perhaps not be to those who tut-tut about them from behind their white-knuckled grip on the Daily Express / Cape Argus / <insert reactionary read of your choice here>.
Along with my explorations about digital identity, one of the topics I've devoted a few thousand words to is the issue of private vs public in the digital realm. With all the echoes of the 70s assertions that the personal was political and the political was personal, the private has become public as the public assails the private. And the canon of TMI - "Too Much Information" - resounds.
Despite the increased level of sophistication introduced into Facebook's privacy settings, it is still all too easy to have one's sensibilities assailed by a deluge of information concerning one's "friends" - who may be anything from friends to acquaintances to total randoms - because they either don't know how to stop broadcasting their every neural event, can't be arsed to, or have fallen prey to one of those noisy apps like "Farmville" which are designed to shrink your social circle to the emotionally onanistic - leaving one prey to the temptation to click the "hide" button on their newsfeed.
While hiding the noise from some long-dead 70s group's fan page is a no-brainer, deciding to pull the plug on the newsfeed of a real, live friend is an act laden with a little more symbolic weight. Is it the same as, say, tuning out their off-key singing in the shower, or the mutterings they make to no one in particular while they're cooking in the kitchen? Or is it more analogous to blocking their emails, ignoring their phone calls and returning their letters - unopened - to sender? Admittedly, "friends" who send groupmails photocopied into cards at christmas time probably don't deserve the descriptor, and similarly "friends" who broadcast their Mafia Wars status continually through the day deserve to have their real status update ("been dumped by LTL - am about to slit my wrists - goodbye cruel world") ignored inamongst the tsunami of appspam... but then, is there any point in retaining their nominal "friendship" other than appearing just marginally better networked than Bob in Accounts who has three fewer "friends" than you do?
"The personal is political."