UCT – drawing the battle lines on who shapes its future

If the tortuous ongoing battle for the soul of the University of Cape Town – as in the about-to-be-constituted powerful Steering Committee overseeing ‘reconciliation and transformation’ on the embattled campus – is any indicator of our academic political future, then this is a must read. Emeritus Professor Tim Crowe is by now well-known to most protagonists for his solid and unashamed pro-establishment views (decide for yourself how accurate a moniker that is upon reading his submission). Whatever your stance is in this by-now highly polarised debate, the hyperlinks in the article are informative (if selective) and should further thinking for input to the January 9 deadline for constitution of these crucial landscape-altering bodies. At first blush the article screams resistance to the kind of change that is envisaged by the ‘Fallists’. However, what’s crucial here is to apply our minds to the practical implications for quality education of whatever the end result is of these high-level, all (too, in Crowe’s mind)-inclusive bodies that will craft the university’s future. Crowe seeks to draw the battle lines on how they are constituted now – before it’s too late. His detractors will say that he’s a narrow-minded, inflexible traditionalist/exclusivist. His supporters will say too little account is being taken of those representing the proud historical academic tradition of UCT. Either way, let’s pray the protagonists can agree on a common goal – or the outcome is likely to be a highly-compromised future for all students, the alumni, and our country. – Chris Bateman

By Tim Crowe*

Tim Crowe, UCT Emeritus Prof.

Fortunately, I have obtained apparently narrowly distributed information concerning the tasks/composition of the powerful Steering Committee (SC) that will oversee the creation of the even more powerful Institutional Reconciliation and Transformation Commission (IRTC) – a key product of the Agreement of 6 November.  The decisions and recommendations of these assemblages, which the UCT Executive maintains should be “multi-stakeholder”, “restorative” and “maximally participative” in nature, WILL (not may) have profound effects on the future of UCT.

First the information; then my questions/comments on it.

Tasks of the SC (approved by Council on 10 December)

  1. develop a framework for selecting commissioners such as criteria, expertise, availability with respect to expected time lines required, etc.
  2. identify the commissioners, and having done so to refer to Council for appointment
  3. develop provisional terms of reference (ToRs) for the IRTC (be submitted to Council for approval) by having its members engage individually with their stakeholder groups
  4. receive recommendations from the IRTC (which, once constituted, will determine its own procedures and modes of operation) and then refer them to Council for consideration
  5. oversee implementation of recommendations.

Composition of the SC (deadline for nominations – 9 January 2017 – to be submitted via [email protected])

One Council member who will be chair

  • 5 students
    • 2 from Students Representative Council (SRC) plus one alternate
    • 2 from Shackville TRC plus one alternate*
    • 1 decided upon jointly by the SRC and Shackville TRC plus one alternate
  • 5 academics elected by:
    • Deans 1 + 1 alternate
    • Senate 1 + 1 alternate
    • The Academic Union 1 + 1 alternate
    • The Heads of Department 1 + 1 alternate
    • The Black Academic Caucus 1 + 1 alternate
  • 3 from management comprising:
    • VC (DVC as alternate for VC or for DVC Transformation)
    • DVC Transformation (Prof. Loretta Feris – Vice-Chair of the Black Academic Caucus)
    • A Representative of the Executive Directors 1 + 1 alternate
  • 1 representative of the Alumni Association (nominated by the Alumni Advisory Board) 1 + 1 alternate
  • 1 from the PASS (support staff) Forum + 1 alternate

One representative from:

    • Employees Union 1 + 1 alternate
    • NEHAWU 1 + 1 alternate
    • Non-recognized unions (to be elected by the Forum of representatives of PASS staff who are affiliated to these unions)

* In the case of the two Shackville TRC representatives, the alternate will not be a single identified individual.  Shackville TRC will be allowed to substitute for one of their two representatives in order to bring in specific experience or interest group, e.g. Trans-collective as required.

Questions/Comments

Why has this important information about the SC not been circulated widely for comment and not reviewed by Senate before being considered by Council?

Does this not indicate that the UCT Executive/Council consider the Senate irrelevant in matters relating to UCT’s future?

Why was a summarized version of this information not included in the VC’s address at the recent UCT Convocation AGM?

How can the SRC nominate anyone to serve on the SC when its elections were suspended because one candidate was an interdicted lawbreaker member of the Shackville TRC?

What has the genocide-chanting

hostage-taking

arson-employing Shackville TRC done to be entitled to select (or help to select) four members of the SC? That is, other than promising no further intimidation/disruption and then reneging on that promise at the UCT Convocation AGM.

Are amnestied lawbreakers (e.g. Mr Chumani Maxwele) potential SC/IRTC members?

Regardless of their potential linkages to lawbreaking, will ‘student’ members of the SC be required to reveal their credentials and ideology, e.g. their academic and criminal, records and the stakeholders with whom they self-identify and what they actually represent?  For example, a student who has failed most of his/her courses and (like most of the Shackville TRC) is a card-carrying member of PASMA, a revolutionary student movement guided by the philosophies of Pan Africanism and Marxism –Leninism whose goal is total liberation of all humanity through the working class revolution and establishment and construction of classless society, may not be someone that UCT’s “silenced majority” feels represents its “stakeholder” interests.

What has the Black Academic Caucus (BAC), an organization with no formal affiliation to UCT, done to qualify for the same level of membership on the SC as the combined Deans, the Senate, the Academic Union and Heads of Departments? It was founded only in 2012 with the purpose of reducing the power of the existing hegemony that clings to colonial relations of power, and is closely aligned with Fallist movements.  Lastly, Prof. Loretta Feris, BAC Vice-Chairperson, is an SC member ex officio in her capacity as DVC in responsible for transformation.

Why do the 100000+ alumni have only one representative on the SC?  Furthermore, note that Alumni Advisory Board, the entity that will appoint that person is chaired by UCT Council member and ardent Price supporter Ms Dianna Yach. Here are my thoughts on the Price-Yach relationship.

Despite all of the above, why is the role of the Senate, UCT’s statutory body constituted to “control” all major university academic matters reduced to nominating one SC member?  Furthermore, why is it not allowed to comment (as the US Senate will do on Trump’s cabinet nominees) on the SC members’ ability to satisfy the “multi-stakeholder”, “restorative” and “maximally participative” goals of the SC/IRTC from an academic perspective before their appointments go before Council?

How should a rational member of UCT’s “silenced majority” interpret all this?

UCT

Let’s put it into context.

7 December: abortive discussion of ‘decolonization’ and UCT Fellows’ Dinner reported on 9 December.

At this gathering of the UCT research elite, VC Price enumerated this year’s many recent achievements.  What he did not do is call upon us to descend from our Ivory Towers and take a meaningful role in mentoring edu-socio-economically oppressed undergraduate students.

8 December: Ms Yach’s Right of reply: UCT slams ‘ignorant, derogatory rhetoric’ [from me] about Dr Max Price.

13 December 2016: Statement of the University of Cape Town Council unconditionally supporting the Price-led UCT Executive.

UCT Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price

14 December: the white-wash Price interview with Andrew Brown in the Daily Maverick.

15 December: the Fallist-invaded UCT Convocation AGM during which skilled Advocate (and former Council chairperson) Geoffrey Budlender miss-represented my motion for consultation of the alumni vis-à-vis focusing negotiations with and actions relating to lawbreaking Fallists; and called for unambiguous support for Price/Fallist initiative; and invaders (who promised to protest in silence) harassed all speakers (including Budlender) and subjected me and a female UCT lecturer to hate speech.  I will be requesting UCT to investigate this illegal activity, but expect – as usual – no action.

22 December: publication of UCT’s intimidation-hate-speech-free ‘minutes’ on the UCT Convocation AGM that once again miss-represents my ‘no confidence’ vote to avoid a survey of alumni and depict the ‘protest’ in a positive light; plus CHED Dean Shay’s letter circulate to 100000+ alumni encouraging them to unconditionally support Price’s policy of “Engaging [as oppose to dealing with] the Chaos” 

23 December: publication of VC Price’s Panglossian Year-end greeting

Now I and a few others hear that the deadline for nominating candidates to serve on the SC is 9 January 2017.

Pardon me if I characterize this “context” as pro-Fallist/‘decolonist’ (whatever that is) propaganda.

I encourage those of you who care to contact Ms Favish (copying to me – [email protected] with your views on who should serve on the SC and IRTC.

Have a peaceful and happy holidays and, if you believe in God, pray for UCT.

  • Professor Tim Crowe is a descendant of oppressed Irish freedom-fighters from the United States working class. He is a first generation university graduate, non-settler immigrant alumnus, elected Fellow and Emeritus (40 years’ service) professor at the University of Cape Town. He is a Ph.D.-educated expert on evolutionary biology (covering everything from ‘race’ to deeply rooted evolutionary trees) and conservation biology (especially regarding sustainable and economically viable use of wildlife). He has published nearly 300 peer-reviewed scientific papers/books and is regarded as the world’s leading authority on game birds (chickens, turkeys, guinea fowls, etc.). About 70 of his graduated students have published their research and established themselves in their own right, including four professors.
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