Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Reitz closed

The moral of the story: if you are going to play a prank, make sure it does not involve whites doing something to blacks and above all, for goodness sakes, don’t film it.

Had it been the other way around, that is, blacks doing something to whites, it would have been a hoot.

But, now that the dorm is closed, eh, we bleks are very heppy.

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The Reitz residence on the campus of the University of the Free State will be closed by the end of this semester.

The decision follows months of debate surrounding the hostel after a controversial video surfaced. An institute for diversity would be erected in the hostel's place, UFS acting rector Professor Theuns Verschoor said on Tuesday..

He said UFS had approved R1-million for the design and establishment of the institute but would look at international funding to raise an initial R50 million.

The university management had decided that the closure of the hostel was an unavoidable strategic imperative and an important gesture of reconciliation. Verschoor added that the university, even after consulting widely, would not turn on its decision as "the university had no choice to do anything less".

"The closing of Reitz is symbolically to counter the symbolic value that was put on the Reitz video," Verschoor said. UFS spokesperson Lacea Loader stated: "The executive management of the university has decided to close down the Reitz residence at the end of this term. That is June 20." She said a committee had been established to assist affected students to find alternative accommodation.

The decision follows a mandate given by the university council to the executive management to decide the residence's fate. UFS was the centre of a racial storm in February after the video, made by former Reitz residents, sparked a national and international outcry.

The video featured black university employees on their knees eating food which had apparently been urinated upon by a white student. The South African Students' Congress chairperson in the Free State, Mojalefa Simango, said the organisation welcomed the announcement by UFS on the closure of the residence.

Dr Robert Dennis, spokesperson for the National Union of Former Reitz Men, said in response that international views, local political opinions and supposed international money were more important to UFS than those of its current and former students.

Dennis said UFS did not give any attention to the input of current Reitz students, their parents or former hostel residents, saying the university had ignored a gesture to work together.

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