Piet le Roux to be investigated - Stellenbosch University Council

Meeting also agrees that the word 'safeguard' in the context of Afrikaans as an academic language should be removed from language policy

SU Council accepts motions related to transformation, language policy

29 September 2015

The Stellenbosch University Council yesterday (Monday 28 September 2015) accepted various motions related to transformation, the Language Policy and approved the recommendation by its Human Resources Committee that the appointment process for two vice-rectors be initiated.

A new position, Vice-Rector: Strategic Initiatives and Internationalisation, was approved by Council. This position, as well as that of the Vice-Rector: Social Impact, Transformation and Personnel (previously the Vice-Rector: Community Interaction and Personnel), currently held by Prof Nico Koopman in an acting capacity, will be advertised shortly. 

Council supported the recommendation by the Rector's Management team that the word 'safeguard' in the context of Afrikaans as academic language should be removed from the introduction to the Language Policy, and from the rest of the policy.

Qualifying words such as 'judicious' and 'where feasible' related to the development of isiXhosa as academic language will also be removed from the introduction. The Rector's Management Team accepted these recommendations by the task teams that considered the proposals contained in the memoranda submitted to management by various student bodies at the end of the first semester.

As determined by the University's Statute, the proposed changes to the Language Policy will be tabled at the Council meeting in November 2015 after consultation with the Institutional Forum and with the concurrence of Senate.

The Stellenbosch University Council yesterday also accepted a motion of support for the Rector and his Management Team for the way in which they have, and are managing the various complex debates and contestations around the transformation of the University; and call on the University Management to continue on the path they  have set, further advance open and critical debate, respond to transformation challenges, and pro-actively create conditions for various forms of student and staff activism to realise the values, principles and rights contained in the Constitution.

In another motion, Council affirmed that it was resolute in its support for the Institutional Intent and Strategy document (approved in April 2013) which was formulated under the late Prof Russel Botman's leadership, and the Institutional Plan, accepted by Council in December 2014. These documents demonstrate the commitment of Council and Management to the University's transformation journey. Council took note of the actions and statements by Mr Piet le Roux (member of Council) about universities in South Africa and the Minister of Higher Education and Training, and that these actions and statements are anti-transformational.

The motion also states, that while Council acknowledges Mr Le Roux's constitutional right to have his own opinions, the body completely distances itself from his public statements which are contrary to Council's official position. Furthermore, Council approves of the University Management's handling of the transformation process and reconfirms its full support of and confidence in Management.

In another, related motion, Council mandated a committee of five members to investigate the actions and pronouncements as reported of Council member Piet le Roux in context of legislation and the Code of Conduct for members of Council. The Committee has been instructed to settle the process with Mr Le Roux, further to obtain legal advice and guidance from senior counsel, and to report its findings and recommendations to Council three weeks prior to the Council meeting of 30 November 2015.

Council also approved the recommended changes to the University's Statute, which includes the proposal that the number of Council members appointed by the Minister of Higher Education and Training be increased from three to five from nominations submitted in view of Council's skills and diversity matrix. The amended Statute will be presented to the Minister for approval.  

The comprehensive report from Council will be included in the Boschtelegram of Wednesday 30 September 2015.

Statement issued by Stellenbosch University, 29 September 2015