StudentePlein takes SU to court over illegal neglect of Afrikaans
- On 18 Oktober 2021
The student organisation StudentePlein, along with the Democratic Alliance and students at Stellenbosch University (SU), will bring a court application in the High Court in Cape Town against SU on Monday to force the latter to implement their own language policy correctly and also to stop the neglect of Afrikaans.
The court application stems from a StudentePlein investigation, which found that SU has been ignoring its language policy for four consecutive semesters by authorising all faculties at senate level not to offer new study material in Afrikaans. In a letter to SU last month, StudentePlein wrote that no further unlawful deviations from their language policy should take place, to which they reacted with denial and refused to take action to stop further unlawful deviations.
“It became clear to StudentePlein that SU would rather evade and deny its own repudiation of its language policy and neglect of Afrikaans as a language of instruction, rather than correcting mistakes and mitigating the disadvantage for Afrikaans students. Since writing letters and engaging in conversations no longer helps, it has unfortunately become necessary to approach the court to protect students’ rights,” says Tian Alberts, director at StudentePlein.
StudentePlein and the other applicants in the case are asking the court to order SU to implement their language policy correctly and to make new study material available in Afrikaans as is required by the language policy and the faculties’ language implementation plans.
“This court application is a first step in bringing immediate relief to the more than 8000 students at SU who prefer to receive access to academic material in Afrikaans. However, StudentePlein mainly focuses on the provision of Afrikaans e-learning material to members so that they can enjoy a fully fledged study experience in Afrikaans. It is a shame that time and resources must now be spent on litigation due to SU making its own rules outside the language policy for the abolition of Afrikaans.”
StudentePlein asserts that although the current language policy offers little protection for Afrikaans students, it is still important that the language policy should not be ignored by the Senate and that Afrikaans students should at least get what they are entitled to under the policy.
“A victory in this court case will not bring about a fairer language dispensation for Afrikaans students at SU, but it will bring temporary relief and allow accountability to triumph. StudentePlein will continue to hold SU accountable in the interest of members and Afrikaans students in general, and to assist Afrikaans students with the necessary study material and academic mentorship.”