This paper describes a particular strategic intervention which was designed to raise awareness about diversity on the campus of a small formerly white South African University campus. Situated against the background of a national imperative to transform and embrace diversity, the paper gives an overview of post-1994 tensions in the country, and highlights the challenges posed to tertiary institutions by the social, cultural, linguistic, religious and racial diversity of South African society. The way institutions respond to the need for diversity is determined by varying interpretations of what the word means, and this paper shows how efforts to speed up and promote change were hampered and hamstrung by a particular academic ‘formation’ which strongly opposed the planned intervention on ideological grounds. The intervention was a University Truth and Reconcilation Commission, modelled on the famous South African TRC of 1994 which enabled people to face their traumatic histories and seek a meeting place, a compromise and a safe place to start afresh. The planned event went ahead anyway, and the paper examines the reasons for the opposition and evaluates the outcomes. Following Muller (1996), the paper argues that in order to advance the cause of social equality and not to retard or undermine it, we need a balance between those with a positive, instrumentalist notion of knowledge (knowledge for) (the doers) and those with a classic view of intellectual work as knowledge of (the critics). With respect to diversity scholarship, the ‘critics’ are positioned on the ‘pure’ (disengaged) intellectual pole of a continuum, while the others are located at the activist, interventionist end: the doers.
|Keywords:||Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Diversity, South Africa, Tertiary Institution, Awareness Raising, Transformation|
Dean of Students, Dean of Students Division, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa
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