Race, gender and sexuality in student experiences of violence and resistances on a university campus

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 11
  • SDG 10
  • SDG 5
  • SDG 4
  • Abstract:

    With the dismantling of apartheid in 1994, significant changes were made to higher education in South Africa. Access to higher education has expanded and student bodies are now more representative in terms of gender and race. However, demographic change alone is insufficient for higher education transformation. As in other parts of the world, within dominant educational discourses ideal students are still typically represented as white, middle-class, male, cisgender and heterosexual. Furthermore, students who occupy these categories tend to hold symbolic power within these institutions. Recently, student movements, starting with RhodesMustFall (RMF) at the University of Cape Town (UCT), have begun to challenge this and draw attention to these issues of transformation. This study was critically and empathically provoked by engagements around the RMF movement and aimed to examine students’ experiences of transformation in higher education relating to race, gender and sexuality at UCT. Photovoice methods (involving focus groups, personal reflections, photographs and written stories) were used to explore two groups of students’ experiences of non-direct, symbolic violence (i.e. issues of bathrooms, residences and campus art) and direct, physical violence on campus as well as these students’ resistances and disruptions to the violence they encountered.