UPDATE: Sexist posters sink Serrie at Tuks

A Pretoria University tradition has been cancelled due to sexist posters brandished on campus earlier this week.

Male students held up the posters during the preliminary rounds of a serenade competition – known as Serrie – between residences on Monday and Tuesday.

The posters with offensive sexist messages were waved around during the female performances.

This prompted the organisers to cancel the finals of the competition.

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They are the TuksRes sub-council, the temporary student committee and the student culture committee (Stuku).

“The decision was made in light of the offensive placards and conduct of student spectators during the Serrie prelims on Monday and Tuesday,” Stuku said in a news statement.

“The decision is further informed by the context of the current national campaign against rape and violence against women and the demonstration hosted on the Hatfield Campus in this regard on Tuesday.”

Stuku said the organisers relied on students to ensure that future culture events not be marred by “insensitive, disrespectful or offensive behaviour”.

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AfriForum Youth bemoaned the cancellation, although it also condemned the offensive posters.

The organisation said rules should be put in place to prevent such conduct instead of cancelling a student tradition.

“The decision to cancel Serrie completely, punishes the students who trained hard to be a part of a constructive student tradition, rather than punishing individuals who cannot behave themselves,” said AfriForum youth’s Tuks coordinator, Jaco Grobbelaar.

He claimed the decision to cancel Serrie was made by UP management, without input from hostel leaders.

Grobbelaar said a fuss was made about the posters by political parties driving their own agendas on campus.

“A certain political party on the UP campus confirmed they had sent photographers to the Serrie competition to take photos to sent to media,” said Grobbelaar.

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Student activist Kwena Moloto said a professional photographer saw a post on Facebook and went to the competition to take photos.

He is a third-year student in history and anthropology.

Grobbelaar said there had been attempts to get rid of Serrie as the event was supposedly not transformed enough.

“This year, political parties use a different approach,” he said.

“It is clear to us that they drive an agenda to remove student traditions on the UP campus and that management of UP reacts to these false agendas.”

Grobbelaar said AfriForum’s information was that the complainants never intended to have Serrie cancelled.

They only wanted steps taken against the guilty students.

Afriforum Youth’s Tuks branch chairman Renier Goosen said: “It is… clear that the university management only give attention to political whims and give no consideration to students affected by decisions made.”

Students have since started a petition against the cancellation of Serrie.

UP principal Cheryl de la Rey sought to placate them in a circular.

“We understand the disappointment of many students who have worked very hard over the past few months to prepare for the Serrie competition,” she wrote.

“We understand your reactions of sadness and disappointment, and reiterate that this behaviour is contrary to the code of conduct that all students sign at registration, and which everyone is expected to adhere to at all times.”

Activist Moloto said: “The issue is not the Serrie but a Tuks resident culture that developed.

“The issue is the normalisation of a sexist culture and the objectification of female students.”

The TuksRes Sub-Council said it was firmly against all forms of abuse against anyone, especially women.

“We are also against any form of discrimination, and will continue to strive towards creating an environment that is inclusive and welcoming to all the students being accommodated in our residences.”

Moloto said he avoided student gatherings like these.

“This is not the first time that something like this happened, but the first time that the public had a chance to see it.”

He said his girlfriend was at the Serrie.

“She took photos and I decided to post it on social media.”

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He said this kind of conduct had been going on for years, but it was the first time that pictures surfaced.

“We need to have a discussion with UP management on how we will transform resident culture. To cancel Serrie is not the solution. It is about the broader issue,” he said.

“We cannot allow students of an university to objectify women. Especially in South Africa where the rape culture is very much alive.”

De la Rey said the decisions by student organisers and leaders send a clear message that offensive behaviour against women would not be tolerated.

Such conduct did not form part of the university’s values.

She said the university’s disciplinary processes were underway.

“The student leadership with the university will implement further interventions to create greater awareness around the different forms of abuse.”

Afrikaans singer, Brendan Peyper could be seen in one of the photos.

He was invited by a hostel, which performed one of his songs at the occasion.

He also deplored the posters, saying he had a sister and a mother.

“Therefore, it makes me extremely sad to see men treating women with such little respect, especially among our young people who are the future of South Africa,” said Peyper.

“I wish to invite all the guys to rather focus on the beauty of a woman and to appreciate and respect God’s creation.”

Photo: Supplied.

These signs were shown in the crowd. Photo: Supplied.

Another message. Photo: Supplied.

An offensive message against women. Photo: Supplied.

One of the signs during the prelims. Photo: Supplied.

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Mari Rheeder

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