By STAFF REPORTER
Rhodes University has issued a statement “unequivocally condemning” all forms of hate speech after some members of the university – including an SRC presidential candidate – posted messages on social media platforms “that might constitute hate speech and homophobia”.
These social media posts are being investigated, the university said.
SRC presidential candidate Arthur Vamva posted several homophobic, transphobic and misogynistic messages on his personal Facebook page in the build-up to the recent elections, prompting protests and condemnation from the LGBTQIA+ activists and the wider university community.
Many students tipped Vamva to win, but the election was nullified by the university after it was discovered that he and four other candidates were on academic probation.
Protestors urged the Independent Electoral Commission to disqualify Vamva as a candidate for his alleged hate speech, but their call fell on deaf ears during the campaign.
The university this week took a strong stand against hate speech and has warned that offences will be “prosecuted to the full extent of the applicable policies and codes”.
The university said its policy on eradicating unfair discrimination and harassment was rooted in Section 9 of the Constitution, which prohibits unfair discrimination directly or indirectly, against anyone on the bases of race, gender, sexual orientation, belief, culture and language, amongst other grounds.
The university reiterated that:
- “There is no place for behaviour motivated by homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, racism, sexism, and all other forms of intolerance, bigotry and chauvinistic behaviours at Rhodes University.”
- “Every person at the university deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.”
- “Every person at the university deserves to feel safe and secure.”
- “Advocating hatred against another student or staff member will not be tolerated.”
“Our rights end where and when we start to infringe on the rights of others. Section 16(2) of our Constitution clearly stipulates that certain forms of expression, including ‘hate speech’ that constitute an incitement to cause harm, are not protected under freedom of expression,” the statement said.
Staff and students who witnessed or experienced hate speech were encouraged to report to the Anti-harassment, Discrimination and Gender Harm office: firstname.lastname@example.org