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UFS on the right track with transformation - Fulbright scholars
2010-08-27

 
Pictured from the left, are: Dr Wilmore-Schaeffer, Rev. Dr Streets and Ms Leah Naidoo (Senior Administrator of the Institute).
Photo: Mangaliso Radebe

“I think the university is not only on the right track but can really become a model for how to negotiate certain difficult processes, such as transformation, within a short period of time. I think it can become a model, not just for other universities, but also for the world.”

This was said by Dr Rozetta Wilmore-Schaeffer, who together with Rev. Dr Frederick J. Streets, recently worked with the International Institute for Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice at the University of the Free State (UFS) as Fulbright specialists. They helped the institute come up with ideas in terms of making the changes that are necessary for the transformation of the university.

“There is a great deal that has already been done despite the sense of urgency and impatience, and I think there is a great deal more to be done,” said Dr Wilmore-Schaeffer.

“I think this sense of urgency comes from those who are involved in the process of looking at the destination, the place that they want to be at, and feeling that they are very far from it.”

During their visit here the two had numerous conversations with both staff members and students.

“I have been most impressed by the students who I think are ready to make changes in many different ways – I am talking about students of all racial groups and gender. The fact that they are referring to transformation as ‘their struggle’ shows that they are prepared to make changes,” said Dr Wilmore-Schaeffer.
She, however, cautioned that there were those who were still against transformation taking place at the university.

“I think there is still some resistance from some quarters on both sides of the fence and I would expect that at this point in time. I think what is really hopeful is that there are so many students who are ready to make the changes, who are making the changes, who are struggling with issues around making the changes; and I think that is really the hope for the university and the hope for the future,” she said.

“The resistance is complex,” added Rev. Dr Streets. “It is around a fear for the future, the loss of identity on the part of both black and white students, and the desire for cultural continuity amongst white students as well as amongst a variety of ethnic black students.

“The resistance is about learning that you are not the only kid on the block anymore and how you then overcome the feeling of realising that you are not the dominant person anymore and that your culture is not the dominant culture anymore.”

They have given a preliminary report of their findings to the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, Prof. Jonathan Jansen, which will be followed by a more detailed report later on.
 

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