Stellenbosch University Convenes Panel To Investigate Wilgenhof Scandal


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A panel of experts will be given a month to look into the 'House of Horrors' scandal at Stellenbosch University, and advise the management on how to proceed with Wilgenhof Residence. This action is not nearly enough for the SRC who have called university management 'irresponsible'. 


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Wilgenhof News

News broke this week of a number of secret rooms at one of Stellenbosch University's male residences. When university management accessed the rooms they found a disturbing history of drawings and photographs that appeared to reference many decades of assault and sexual abuse at the all-male residence. It appears senior students may have been using their seniority to abuse younger students.

Wilgenhof Scandal

University management have said that the secret rooms were discovered during a audit. However it is not clear how often such audits are held as the practices seemed to span decades. It is also not clear if all other Stellenbosch residences have been audited. 

The 'Stellenbosch House of Horrors' that the university staff found there, as it has been called in a number of reports by News24, suggest abusive practices going back decades.

News24 Articles:

A decision was taken to remove the photographs and other evidence from the rooms and to paint over the walls. Careers Portal has asked Stellenbosch University to clarify who took this decision but the University spokesperson declined to share this information.

The Rector of the University, Professor Wim de Villiers, has released a video statement where he calls the pictures discovered in the rooms, "deeply disturbing."

He added that the University is in the final stages of putting together a panel of experts to review the items found and to advise the University on the appropriate next steps. The panel will be asked to submit their report and findings by the end of February. "We are committed to acting on receipt of that report," confirmed the Rector.

Wilgenhof Residence Scandal

The Rector confirmed that Management had engaged with the Wilgenhof House Committee and had received communication from the Wilgenhof alumni. 

Student leaders at the university have been highly critical of the management's response to the Wilgenhof scandal.  The Stellenbosch SRC has called the management's statement "irresponsible, incredulously vague, and leaving room for speculation."

The SRC has called for the current House Committee of the residence to be barred from performing any welcoming activities for first-year students of 2024. 

They have also called on the management to take back full control of the university residences from what they refer to as a 'problematic alumni'.

Stellenbosch University is a public university and therefore a national asset, and not owned by any individuals.

Careers Portal has asked the Stellenbosch University spokesperson how new students and their family members can be confident of their safety when at the university, considering that this has been happening for many decades. Also considering that the management have not acceded to the SRC's call to remove the current House Committee from their positions of authority. 

The Rector did not reassure parents and new students in his statement that they were safe at Stellenbosch University.

When asked by Careers Portal the University spokesperson responded with an updated statement that included the following quote.

“Significant attention and preparation have gone into the Welcoming for 2024 to enable a positive experience for the new first year students arriving shortly”, adds Prof Deresh Ramjugernath, DVC for Learning and Teaching, who is responsible for the Division of Student Affairs. “The University management can assure students and parents that it is resolute in its unwavering commitment to the safety, security and wellbeing of everyone on our campuses.”

Students will be arriving at the university from next week.

Previous Reports About Wilgenhof Residence

 

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