The protest was organised in response to media reports of initiation and practices, including the alleged use of a Nazi salute, in residences on the Potchefstroom campus, which were published earlier this year.
SRC president Janco Jordaan said NWU students will no longer remain silent while the media reports “lies” about them.
Reitz Magdali, a member of the university’s Residence Council, told marchers that, “We have remained silent long enough while the media dragged our name through the mud and [we] apologised while we did nothing wrong.”
“We are not racists or fascists and nobody’s puppet,” he said. “We are proud South Africans who believe in democracy, inclusiveness and positive traditions, not initiation or human rights violations.”
The march went through Potchefstroom’s streets and ended at the NWU’s institutional office, where a memorandum was handed to the university’s vice-chancellor Prof. Dan Kgwadi.
What do NWU students want?
The memorandum handed over to Prof. Kgwadi contained the following demands:
• That the university management pay more attention to students’ voices, particularly when the university is being reported on by the media.
• That the Potchefstroom campus becomes a multilingual campus, keeping Afrikaans as a teaching language while promoting access to English and Tswana.
• That transformation be considered not as a figure but as an attitude.
• That management takes firmer action against media who unfairly or incorrectly report on perceptions of students’ integrity, credibility, and ability to serve.
• That a forum is created for discussion between the vice-chancellor and students to identify and eradicate negative perceptions of NWU students.