By Carla Bernardo 24 March 2015 21h07
Cape Town – The University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price’s proposal to remove the Cecil John Rhodes statue has been approved by the institution’s Senior Leadership Group (SLG), the university announced on Tuesday.
“I have met with the SLG of UCT, namely the deans, the Executive Directors, the Deputy Vice-Chancellors and the Directors of Institutional Planning and the Transformation Office. I am now in a position to confirm that the proposal I have earlier made in my personal capacity has been supported by all these constituencies,” said Price.
Over the past few weeks, discussions about the removal of the Rhodes statue resulted in student-led protests, open letters from past Student Representative Council chairpersons, and even posters of Hitler and the swastika being put up around the campus as debate around Rhodes’ legacy heated up.
The University had planned to debate “signs and symbolism” at a later stage in the year but decided to do so earlier to deal with students’ growing demands.
The SLG would now present Price’s proposal to:
– The University’s Institutional Forum on Tuesday
– The University Assembly on Wednesday
– The PASS forum of professional and support staff on Thursday
– The Senate on Friday.
They would then discuss the matter with the Convocation meeting on April 7 and would conclude presentations in a special sitting of the University’s Executive Council on April 15.
“UCT is an argumentative university. This is an abiding strength and undoubtedly, the students are leading a national debate. We have gone to great lengths to allow a free exchange of ideas on the issue of the statue,” said Price.
He urged the university community to continue engaging in the discussion, emphasising the need to respect differing opinions.
The call comes on the back of the discovery of racist and hate speech on comment boards provided by the University to discuss the removal of the statue.
“This is totally unacceptable and I condemn this in the strongest possible terms,” said Price. “If we can identify the writers, we will certainly take disciplinary action.”
African News Agency