NEWS & ANALYSIS

We reject David Benatar's 'cry-bully' claims - UCT HSSC

Students council has requested an official statement in response, invites anonymous responses

STATEMENT FROM THE HSSC:

A response to the "Vindictive victimhood at UCT" article.

Greetings fellow students,

As many of you may have seen or heard, there is an article circulating around our campus detailing how black 3rd year medical students are allegedly bullying their non-black classmates and how this is a growing culture among black UCT students. We are aware that the author of the article is Professor David Benatar, a 3rd and 4th year MBChB Ethics lecturer from the Department of Philosophy.

We as the HSSC reject the notion that black students are "cry-bullies" for calling out people who victimize and discriminate against them. We believe that the article is not a reflection of the true experiences of I-JCT students as the opinion on "victimhood at UCT" is based on the experiences of just two non-black students in the Faculty of Health Sciences.

It is evident that the article is entrenched on the subjective experiences of those two students on select occasions. Not all past interactions between these two groups of students are accounted for in the article. Furthermore, we believe the article is deepening the divide among students in the class and that is going to negatively affect how these students interact with each other in the future.

We recognize the need to have a safe space for all students to voice their opinions without being silenced and our role as the HSSC in creating that space, however it must be said that gas-lighting opinions from teaching staff have the potential to create a hostile learning environment for students who have to interact with those lecturers.

Our stance against racism and victimization as a student body is clear and we are currently seeking advice from different structures to decide on the best course of action. The HSSC is aware that the existence of this article not only affected the MBChB 3rd year students, but the entire FHS community.

In the meantime, we are in contact with the Deanery and we have requested an official public response to the article from the faculty, we further requested an outline of how the Faculty intends to support the current 3rd year MBChB class through this difficult period.

Our communication lines remain open and we wish to encourage students to continue having these difficult conversations among their peers and colleagues and reflect on them. We are also requesting students to anonymously comment on this article via an online google form: https://forms.gle/LojaKoqfUidN6GBg9

The responses will be collated and used as part of the public discussion on transformation that will be facilitated by the HSSC in 2020.

This is the link to the article (Trigger warning): /opinion/vindictive-victimhood-at-uct

Statement issued by the UCT Health Sciences Students' Council (HSSC) via Twitter and Facebook, 15 November 2019