Anti-Discrimination and Social Justice Week message from the Vice-Chancellor and Principal

Posted on October 01, 2019

The University of Pretoria (UP) is hosting its annual Anti-Discrimination and Social Justice Week from 30 September to 4 October 2019. We have added social justice to this annual event to signal that the work of anti-discrimination should result in achieving social justice. This is because promoting and advocating for anti-discrimination and social justice is part of our substantive transformation agenda. This year, gender-based violence and xenophobia are themes of particular national importance that need to be highlighted in order to achieve a more just, tolerant and cohesive society.

We must all individually and collectively redouble our efforts in this important process of social change. We all need to be aware that without eradicating all forms of discrimination to achieve justice we will not become the university we ought to be: one that is transformed and critically influences and contributes to achieving social justice in society.

We should not allow any form of discrimination to create a credibility gap between the cutting-edge knowledge we produce and the quality education we give. We should also not allow the perception of a discriminatory institutional culture to override the numerous other positive qualities of this institution.

Everyone's efforts matter in this regard because it takes a community to achieve social justice. UP’s commitment to achieving social justice is evidenced by the wide range of initiatives we run throughout the year that encourage social justice. Included in this is our community engagement programme that allows our students, staff and research to make a direct and distinct impact where it matters most in our society. These advocacy campaigns and activities against discrimination and for social justice are aimed at creating an inclusive community and institutional culture necessary to achieve excellence in everything we do.

The University Council has just passed a new anti-discrimination policy that will allow us to contribute towards South Africa’s constitutionally mandated goal of a socially just community that has achieved equality and equity and one in which justice is the norm. This new policy will be followed by the creation of a strengthened Transformation Office that will focus, coordinate, support and enable all our efforts aimed at achieving social justice.

Over the course of this week, there will be seminars, public lectures, performing arts events and exhibitions on diversity and transformation. We urge our staff and students to attend these events in the spirit of learning and understanding our diversity and to promote a culture of cohesion, mutual respect, and an appreciation for different cultures.

I would like to encourage all members of our community to work together to help us to achieve these national macro goals on a micro level within our institution so that UP can lead the way in achieving its transformation and equity efforts.

Remember that to live THE UP WAY means that we embrace each other’s individuality, we are understanding, kind, and live and work together in harmony with our individual diversity and differences.

Lastly, I urge you to be a part of the conversation and dialogue and participate in the various initiatives across the campus. A complete list of the events planned this week is on the intranet on the staff and student portals.

Prof Tawana Kupe

Vice-Chancellor and Principal

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