[GALLERY]: Witsies bowling each other out

MEN IN BLUE:  Strikers B and the Sons of Pitches played it out on Tuesday night at the Wits Cricket pitch. The Sons of Pitches won with four wickets to spare after Strikers B made 167 runs in their innings. The round-robin match was part of the Wits Internal League. All the players in this league are Witsies from different campuses.  It was an all-fun game with players who registered to be part of the internal league. There are 14 teams who compete in the league with each playing three games. One game is played per week.  Quarter finals will take place at Walter Milton B pitch this Sunday.

Staff whistleblowers slammed

“Several staff members, who encourage students to report their experiences of sexual harassment, have been victimised by the university.”

This was the damning assessment of the treatment of staff members who attempted to blow the whistle on sexual harassment at Wits, as detailed in a report released last week.

The report revealed that Wits staff members felt “sidelined, marginalised” and “silenced” by the university.
These staff members have indicated that they felt like “unprotected whistle-blowers.”

The perpetrators of sexual harassment often accused whistleblowers of participating in a “conspiracy” against them.

“Staff members who have attempted to assist with sexual harassment in the past, have experienced humiliation and silencing by roleplayers, and in some cases been actively labelled by fellow staff-members for causing trouble,” read the report.

According to the report, the “roleplayers” at Wits include the Legal Office, the Employment Relations Office, the Transformation Office, the sexual harassment advisor, Campus Control, Campus Health and university management.

Some staff members interviewed in the report complained that the university did not take a “proactive stance” on sexual harassment and did not deal with the issue.

“For example, in one case, a staff member has reported that a contract worker in partnership with the university has, on numerous occasions, aggressively targeted female staff,” read the report.

“Although this has been reported, to date nothing has been done from the university’s side, and as a result, there has been a high turnover rate of female staff in that department, who simply cannot work under such conditions.”

The report notes that ordinary staff members were at the “coalface” of sexual harassment as students being victimised are more likely to turn to them for help.

Because of this, staff should be constantly trained and supported in their dealing with student complaints of harassment.

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Queers rough it up in an all-fun rugby match

A GAY OLD TIME: The winning team, Wits All Stars, with members of the Wham! team clap at the end of the game to celebrate a game well played.                                                                                             Photo: Prelene Singh

A GAY OLD TIME: The winning team, Wits All Stars, with members of the Wham! team clap at the end of the game to celebrate a game well played. Photo: Prelene Singh

THE QUEERS of Wits Pride 2013 and members of Wits Sport went head-to-head in an entertaining game of rugby, on Wednesday night at the Wits Rugby Club.

Wham!, an amateur mixed-gender, queer social rugby club, and the Wits All Stars, a team put together by Wits Sport, played a fun and exuberant game with the Wits All Stars winning 26-24.

The game was part of the Wits Pride campaign which was held on campus this past week. The aim of the match was to tackle prejudices against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and asexual (LGBTIA) people of the Wits community.

This epic square-off began weak as the Wham! team tried to get their footing. Wits All Stars came in strong with a leading score by half-time.

[pullquote align=”right”]“One of the aims of Wits Pride 2013 is to establish a safe campus community for all our students and staff. This is particularly important in light of the rising number of attacks on queer South Africans, especially lesbians and trans-women,”[/pullquote]

The second half saw the Wham! players score epic tries and some ambitious drop goals, which quickly made them fast and head-strong competitors.

The game was all in fun as it aimed to integrate people of queer identity with the rest of society. Wham! was created as an alternative space for queer, which includes LGBTIA, people to meet in a healthy social environment.

“Not only is Wham! comprised of members who identify as queer in some way, it is also comprised of players of all genders – none of whom are scared to go for the tackle,” said Transformation Office programme manager Ella Kotze.

The Wham! and Wits All Stars game took place amid the annual Wits Pride festivities, under the theme “Being Me”. Wits Pride is hosted by the Transformation Office.

“One of the aims of Wits Pride 2013 is to establish a safe campus community for all our students and staff. This is particularly important in light of the rising number of attacks on queer South Africans, especially lesbians and trans-women,” said Kotze.

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[EDITORIAL]: The essence lies beneath

Imagine a world with no inspiration, no creativity and no innovation. In the mind’s eye it becomes a world with a sombre, dull and melancholic atmosphere, lacking the essence of life and spontaneity. Innovation in many fields of study, including science, architecture and art, would cease to exist and so would our progression as humankind.

The importance of art and drama in our surroundings was brought home to us this week.

Team Vuvu made a trip to cinema nouveau in Rosebank this past week to watch the locally produced movie Of Good Report, directed by Jahmil XT Qubeka. The movie took us on a darkly comical journey in the life of a murderer. While many might review this movie as making a social comment on the “suga daddy” issue, some of us saw it as dealing with the mind of a serial killer.

Much controversy surrounded this movie upon its release. It was initially banned although this was overturned on appeal. After watching it and doing some research it became apparent the aim of the movie was misunderstood.

The protagonist Parker Sithole, played by Mothusi Magano, never uttered a word throughout the movie. Qubeka used the art of motion, expression and lack of colour throughout the movie to send a message not only about serial killers but also about gender imbalance in South African society.

This is the potential influence this kind of movie can have. People use art to structure society. It forces people to think about serious issues faced in society.

Simultaneously, art is also practised as a form of leisure and satisfaction. This should not be inferior to anything else in the world. What we perceive as important, is important.

It has been an innovative and successful year for Wits Vuvuzela and we as a student newspaper have definitely made a change in our community.

In addition to covering hard news, certain members of the team enjoyed the lighter and arguably equally important aspects of the news. We have covered a variety of campus initiatives and events throughout the year.

Trying to accomplish this in the midst of hard news coverage, which is expected of us, has been a task. Some of us particularly enjoyed covering the art exhibitions and performances produced by the Wits theatre this year, in celebration of their 30th anniversary.

The realisation that there are so many different forms of art was an unexpected discovery for many of us who signed up for journalism. 

[WITH GALLERY]: Richard Ward renovations halted

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A modernisation project at the Richard Ward building on East Campus has stalled pending further fundraising efforts.

While the beginning stages of the modernisation project started well, according to Edward Brooks, project architect, renovations have stopped due to lack of funding.

Brooks said: “Brooks said that this project’s momentum is expected to be “stop and start” due to the major work and finances involved.

Richard Ward houses the university’s School of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering and is situated on East Campus.

The university has planned three phases of development, estimated at R75-million, for the building’s modernisation project and hired Activate Architect to head the renovations.

Emanuel Prinsloo, director of campus development and planning, said the first phase of the project amounted to R31.5 million.

The Department of Higher Education (DoHET) has facilitated in funding the first of the three phases of this modernisation project. They invested R14-million in this project.

Sunny Lyuke, Head of School of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering, said: “The main reason for the renovation is to house world class modern laboratories.”

All seven floors of Richard Ward will be modernised. The first phase included renovating the laboratories on floor two and the postgraduate space on floor seven.

“The building is about 40 years’ old and needs to be revamped,” Prinsloo said.

The modernisation is also aimed at expanding teaching and research spaces. The modernisation project aims to; increase the School’s contribution to industry-related research by introducing five new laboratories spaces in biochemical processes, nanotechnology, atomic absorption and volatile organic compounds.

Edward Brooks, the project architect, said they started in November and finished at the end of June with phase one. There was a team of 10 designers who managed and developed the design and at maximum 100 contractors who worked on the ground.

According to the Wits website there has been an increase in chemical and metallurgical engineering students and therefore there is a greater need for infrastructure improvements than before. These changes will ensure the highest levels of teaching are achieved according to the site.

But Prinsloo said: “Nothing will happen in the next six to 10 months.”

He further said once the last two phases have started, they will take approximately 12 to 18 months to complete.

[SLICE OF LIFE]: The power of women

Prelene Singh

Prelene Singh

Things are not always what they seem. Cliché I know. But if we look critically at society, we can see that people are programmed to listen to and believe what is socially acceptable. This is not necessarily anyone’s fault nor is it a shame to admit that sometimes you do not think beyond what is presented to you in the media and the people around you.

With the stirring reports of sexual harassment on our campus over the last few months and the massive problem of rape in South Africa, I started to think maybe there is more to the situation than we force ourselves to believe.

After watching the Carte Blanche television interview on Sunday night with Zwelinzima Vavi, I was surprised to hear his reaction to the rape accusations made against him. He was shockingly forth coming about his endeavours with this woman who made these accusations. He admitted to having an affair with her and apologised for his actions. He also recognised his mistake and took full responsibility for this.

I watched this interview fives inches away from the television screen. I watched for those uncertain twitches, those wandering eye balls and guilty hand gestures; however to my disappointment I did not see them. Vavi was shockingly composed and sincere.

Among the many things he said, one important line stood out to me: people who are in powerful positions often get sexual advances from women in their work space because of their authoritative stance. It’s the whole idea of power relations between people.

I remember a woman who made a significant impression on me. She once said: “There is no force equal to a woman determined to rise.”

I believe that sometimes women are more intelligent, more devious and more strategic than we as a population give them credit for. In this constantly changing and erratic world we live in, people are money and career driven. Women have a particular power which few men can withstand – the power of seduction.

The Victorian era is an example. For those who are not literary enthusiasts, in this era women used their beauty and seduction to gain the highest advantage over men. Beauty was seen as the definition of character and in a day where women were slaves to men, aesthetics was the one thing women used to get their way.

As much as women are the general victims of sexual harassment, sometimes and I emphasise sometimes, it is not only one sided. Women can offer men something they desire in order to get what the woman wants. It may be financial support, career-jumping opportunities or whatever else they need in their personal lives in return for sexual favours.

During my research for all the harassment stories we covered in Wits Vuvuzela, I was repeatedly made aware of this by readers of the paper. Harassment on campus is not just between lecturers and students but also between students and students. I cannot help but think that a university campus is the perfect breeding ground for harassment because of the need to succeed and push forward in life. Here, more than anywhere else, I think it is important to consider that women can and will take advantage of what is presented to them.

By the same token, though, it is still the responsibility of any lecturer – as the person who holds the power in the relationship – to resist any attempts to manipulate them.

A real revolution would be a revolution of consciousness in society.