South Africa’s Stellenbosch University (SU), still reeling from a damning documentary citing several cases of racial discrimination at the institution is once against in the spotlight for an alleged “blackface” incident.

According to the university, two white female students wore the blackface to a housewarming party at the Heemstede Dameskoshuis. The two students have since been suspended from the residence pending the outcome of an investigation, the statement from the institution said.

“One of the students has also been relieved from her duties as student mentor,” the statement noted.

The university has been previously accused of dragging its feet on transformation. The institution’s social and academic space has been identified as discriminatory and highly divided along race lines.

The blackface incident is not the first at the university, and a similar incident occurred in 2014.

The university authorities have swiftly moved to act on the incident. According to the statement posted on the website,  “A case has been registered with the Equality Unit, a recently established entity to deal with all forms of unfair discrimination, and the matter was reported to the Central Disciplinary Committee”.

The blackface incident has reignited debate at the university and around South Africa on transformation and race relations on institutions of higher learning.

Racial discrimination in South African universities and educational institutions is by no means new but rather enduring. Luister, a documentary produced last year at Stellenbosch University shared the experiences of a group of students, documenting “a culture of racism and violence” at the university.

Research on various institutions of higher learning in the country has often argued that whiteness has continued successfully to contest ownership of university institutional spaces and thereby invisibly perpetuating its hegemony. As a result, students and lecturers have no sense of belonging and they feel excluded on the grounds of language, race and class.

Source: Stellenbosch University