The workshop started with a privilege exercise that comprised of a diverse group of people ranging from the CSA&G, Unit for Academic Literacy, the drama department, law faculty, Centre for Contextual Ministry, faculty student advisor in the humanities faculty and students. After a series of questions the exercise found that the majority of black women were at the lower end of the privilege spectrum while at the opposite end stood heterosexual males, black and white respectively. The constitution of privilege as put forth by the floor included the terms “cisgender” (a person born with a specific gender and whose self-identity conforms to their biological sex), “whiteness”, “being male”, “able-bodied”, “light skinned” and “being educated”.
The anti-racism pledge that has published by the university for students and staff members to sign, although part of a bigger process, was noted by the floor as not attending to the structural power of the institution, which put into question the practical changes it would bring.
The discussion shifted from privilege to the method and practice of teaching and how it can be transformed within the university context. The general consensus among students was that there needs to be room for students to design their own assignments and increased inclusion with teaching.
Curriculum development was discussed and one of the points that were made was that there is a desperate need for an “African voice” as there is an prevailing eurocentric view influencing prescribed texts. It was also noted that the students’ voice should be included in the curriculum.
Students highlighted that power is an instrumental factor used by the intuitional authority in moments of conflict that question the prescribed work and for transformation to occur there needs to be a removal of the “old guard” – a relinquishing of power by people that bring nothing new to add to the transformation debate. It was concluded that transformation cannot happen in isolation and is a continual, never-ending process.