Measuring the Effect of Diversity Interventions at a South African Residential University

By Vivian de Klerk and Sarah Radloff.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

There have been many changes in post-apartheid South Africa since 1994, and one of the primary issues attracting attention within institutions of higher education has been diversity, as it pertains to social, cultural, linguistic, religious and racial differences. The challenge facing Universities has been to respond quickly to the national imperative to facilitate transformation, both in terms of day-to-day institutional practices as well as perceptions, attitudes and mindsets, which, while very elusive and invisible, are the most powerful determinants of the prospects for success in any efforts to achieve real change.
While diversity pervades all aspects of academic life, including student access and support, staff recruitment and retention, curriculum issues, research and scholarship and the social and learning environment on campus, this paper focuses on residence life at Rhodes University in the Eastern Cape and reports on the extent to which recent interventions aimed at enhancing the acceptance of diversity have succeeded. After a description of the context and the nature of interventions which were organised to raise awareness of diversity, the paper reports on the results of a comprehensive survey which was carried out in the residences in 2007 and 2008, and focuses primarily on aspects of race and culture. The aim of the paper is two-fold: to describe a range of strategies which may be used to counteract prejudice in an institution, and to offer a method of measuring the effectiveness of these interventions, as a possible means of taking regular (if approximate) ‘readings’ of an institution’s ‘prejudice barometer’.

Keywords: Diversity, Prejuduce, University, Stereotype

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp.25-46. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 820.330KB).

Dr. Vivian de Klerk

Dean, Dean of Students Office, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Professor Vivian de Klerk obtained her BA (Hons) and MA degrees cum laude from Rhodes and a PhD from UCT. She has been Professor and Head of the Department of English Language and Linguistics at Rhodes University since 1991, and has served as Deputy Dean of Humanities (6 years) and University Public Orator (4 years). On a national level, she served as President of the Linguistics Society of Southern Africa from 1995-2002, she was the ministerial appointee on the South African Geographical Names Council till 2006, and she serves on the boards of the South African Academy of Science and the English National Language Body. In addition, she chaired the Provincial Language Council for Eastern Cape Province from 1998 - 2003, and serves on the editorial boards of English World Wide and the Southern African Journal of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, and on the Boards of the Institute for the Study of English in Africa (ISEA), the Dictionary Unit for South African English and the Grahamstown Foundation. She is currently a rated NRF researcher, and research interests over the years have included issues in language and gender, personal naming practices, and language shift on which she has over 80 peer-reviewed articles published in scholarly journals, plus 2 books. Her work on a spoken corpus of Black South African English, explores the linguistic characteristics of this emergent variety of English in South Africa. In 2007 she moved from academia to university administration, and she is now the Dean of Students at Rhodes University, tasked with driving transformation in the institution.

Sarah Radloff

Rhodes University, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Professor and former Head of Department of Statistics at Rhodes University. Recipient of Vice Chancellor’s Distinguished Senior Researcher Award.

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