“Dismay” at Stellenbosch senate’s rejection of call for Gaza ceasefire

Meanwhile Nelson Mandela University senate supported a call for a ceasefire in Gaza earlier this week, and effectively an academic boycott of Israel

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Photo of iconic building on University of Stellenbosch

The Ou Hoofgebou (Former Main Administration building, now the Law Faculty) on Stellenbosch University campus. Photo: Wikipedia user Dfmalan (CC BY 3.0)

A special sitting last week of the University of Stellenbosch senate rejected a motion urging the university to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The vote was 101 against 80, with 18 abstentions, according to Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande, who expressed “utter dismay and disbelief” at the outcome.

The motion follows a statement signed by 103 senate members condemning the killing of academics and staff and the destruction of universities by Israel in Gaza.

On Tuesday, 92 senate members signed a statement expressing “deep dismay” at the senate’s vote.

“We urge the Council and Convocation of the University to take a clear position against the decimation of the education system and daily existence in Gaza,” they wrote.

An opposing view by a senate member, seen by GroundUp, urged that the motion be rejected because it said it was: “an attempt to curtail free academic discussion at this university”; “inconsistent with the nature of the university, which is the sponsor of critics and not a lobby”; and “inconsistent with the university’s own statute, and a threat to our institutional integrity”.

According to Al Jazeera, every university in Gaza have been damaged or destroyed and more than 90 professors killed by Israel’s bombardment.

“Unfortunately, the [Stellenbosch] senate did not pass a resolution on the Israel-Palestine crisis on the genocide and destruction of scholarship and education in Gaza,” Minister for International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor said at a public lecture on Wednesday.

Pandor noted the University of Fort Hare had called for an “immediate ceasefire that must be enforced by the United Nations, and the smooth passage of humanitarian aid into Gaza equitably distributed throughout the whole territory of the Gaza strip.”

The Nelson Mandela University senate unanimously supported a call for a ceasefire in Gaza earlier this week, and effectively an academic boycott of Israel.

“[T]he worsening situation in Gaza and the urgency of taking measures to achieve lasting peace, places a responsibility on all academic institutions to respond to this ongoing crisis,” a statement read.

On Tuesday, Wits University staff and students gathered on campus to call for the university to take a public stance in the ongoing war on Gaza.

The University of the Western Cape’s council also called for a ceasefire in a statement in April.

In November last year, the University of Cape Town senate called for a ceasefire.

TOPICS:  Israel-Palestine Tertiary Education

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