(This is a letter sent to Perdeby by a student)
Greetings to all who chose to take a minute or seven of their time to read and consider this letter!
It’s all around us; it’s as unavoidable as the morning after and is, at least to me, about as appealing as last week’s “fresh” fish that you discovered in the back of your car.
I am talking about the election of the new SRC.
None of us could have missed the posters everywhere, the flyers (excuse the pun) in every class and the mood of change that is hovering over campus.
I am, however, deeply unnerved by the course the whole process is taking.
Let me explain by way of an analogy I just thought up: would you feel safe in an airplane being piloted by a taxi driver? Or would you trust a rugby star to manage your investments? I certainly hope not! As a result, I don’t enjoy the prospect of being represented by someone who is actually representing some or other political organisation. What assurances do I have that my views are being taken seriously and that they are not coming second to a national political strategy of some or other nature? I feel only students which are only students, can represent students.
This is a very serious matter, as I am of the opinion that we as students have failed our establishment, our long and proud history and the very nature of the good University of Pretoria by scurrying like frightened animals to political factions for support when we ourselves have not utilised the support structures that have been in place forever, or when we are too arrogant, afraid and self righteous to accept that we ourselves are at fault.
The very fact that students resort to uncivilised protests, boycotts and vandalism because they are unsatisfied about some or other matter speaks deeply for where our culture is heading in future if we allow ourselves to consider this the normal way of dealing with an issue. I am in no way saying the reasons for these actions were unjustified, in many cases I support the cause being fought for. It comes down to the simple matter of principle; if we are unhappy about anything, we cannot abandon the moral high ground just because it forces the University’s Management into a quick decision.
I feel we as students need to look no further than ourselves for the cause of the current rift forming between various groups, ethnic or religious, political or social that is gripping not only our University, but our country as a whole. And the solution to this problem is not to be gained by condemning certain languages, not by enforcing ethnic quotas in various locations, not by lowering our standards as a University simply to please powers to be.
The solution will appear in our society the moment when every person who calls this rich and fertile soil on the southern tip of Africa his homeland looks to the person standing next to him and greets him as his brother, his brother born of this land, regardless of race, religion, social standing or shoe size.
And this can be forced onto no person, and by judging those people who have not yet fully embraced change, we are giving them no reason to do so.
It saddens me deeply to see political organisations having at each other over trivial issues, issues which are best kept off campus in my opinion. I consider the current Management, Executive and Rector to be some of the best this University has ever had, and our constitution enshrines the most important right of any student studying at this institution, the right to further his own capabilities, advance his intellect and broaden his horizons through study, an honourable tradition dating back to the first higher learning institutions of antiquity.
And if some people disagree with this value or the way it is currently protected, then I am of the opinion that they should exercise their right to choose another University, because by changing the values decided many years before us, we are denying ourselves the heritage of our proud institution.
I am not abolishing change, merely stating that addition is preferable to changing one aspect only to please a certain group whilst unsettling another at the same time.
I am not about to denounce any political organisation specifically, but I will say this, be it the SASCO, VF+TAS, AfriForum or whoever, I am not about to let my future be decided by individuals who do not feel quite the same way as I do. I am of the deeply held opinion that my studies and my future has squat-all to do with whoever is in Parliament or sits at the Union Buildings, or who wants to be in one of those two places. I am here to study, to earn my degree through hard work and dedication and enjoy my years as a student along the way.
Because, dear reader, we are the University of Pretoria, we who walk these paths, enjoy these lawns and support our teams along the fields. No one else. And the decisions we make today and in the days to come will not only affect our future, but the future of every single person in this world who has earned a degree at this fine institution. Feel the responsibility yet? You should be.
Therefore, enlightened reader, I am informing you that come election day, I will vote for the person or persons who I feel are unbiased and are guided by no other force than their own conscience and beliefs.
I trust you will consider your own thoughts, your own values and decide if anyone can best represent you, and who is not guided by outside powers. Try your best not to be swept up by propaganda (I call it this, because it’s not the truth, just someone’s version of it) and take your own feelings into account.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope sincerely that we will not disappoint those who have treaded these paths before us, and more importantly, those who still will.