Anonymous members of the UCT Health Science Students’ Council (HSSC) [purportedly representing ALL councilors?] “reject the notion that [Health Science] black students are cry-bullies for calling out people who victimize and discriminate against them”. This “notion” is explicated in a piece and a response by David Benatar, an eminent UCT Professor of Philosophy who, for years, has lectured on professional ethics to UCT Health Sciences students. David is the son of the also UCT Eminent Medical Professor Solomon R. Benatar, Founding Director of the UCT Bioethics Centre. Benatar ‘The Elder’ will present this year’s Dr Stuart John Saunders Lecture: “Health, healthcare and professionalism in the 21st century”. Benatar The Younger’s pieces detail events that occurred during a recent, short-notice, compulsory “emergency meeting” that conflicted with scheduled lectures. It also expresses his concerns about their impact. Sadly for students aspiring to learn how to care for (or at least do no harm to) fellow humans, the HSSC ‘group-rejection’ is replete with misrepresentations and a thinly-veiled threat.
First, Benatar’s pieces identify the crybullying/inquisitors as “some students” – not “blacks”. Indeed, he only refers to them and the recipients of their vilification BOTH as “some students”. In Benatar’s pieces, the word “black” emanates from quotes of statements made by the handful of ‘crybullying inquisitors’. Second, the HSSC-group states that it “believes” that Benatar’s ‘notion’-piece “is not a reflection of the [students’] true experiences”, since it “is based on the subjective experiences of just two non-black students on select occasions” and does not deal with “all past interactions between these two groups of students”. But, the HSSC-group offers no ‘objective’ findings of formal, UCT-(or even Black Academic Caucus)-sanctioned surveys based on ANY ‘occasion’ (selected or otherwise) that support their ‘belief’. Third, the group “believes [that] the [Benatar’s ‘notion’] article is deepening the divide among students in the class”, while their “calling out people who victimize and discriminate against them” replete with expletives does not. [Benatar’s pieces demonstrate that the words/acts of alleged ‘victimizers and discriminators’ are, in fact, nothing more than expressed ideas or views that conflict with those of the crybullying/inquisitors.] Fourth, the HSSC-group calls for “the need to have a safe space for all students to voice their opinions without being silenced”, even though the “emergency meeting” failed to do that for the “non-black students” accused of victimizing and discriminating against “blacks”. Fifth, the HSSC-group nowhere defines the term “non-black”. Do they mean what UCT bureaucrats and social engineers refer to as “Whites”, “Coloureds” and/or “Asians”, restricting “black” to mean persons with dark skin whose ancestors came from Africa?
The HSSC-group accuses teaching staff [all or just ‘some’?] of employing “gas-lighting” “to create a hostile learning environment for students who have to interact with those lecturers”. Is this statement a harbinger of more tangible ‘hostility’ aimed at shedding UCT of these gas-light-educators or the racist ideas they attempt to communicate? Given the “vitriolic nature of [some Health Science] students and their do or die attitude”, and their “personal insults and abuse” that “vandalised” and “unravelled” the “soul” of Dean Bongani Mayosi, “cut[ting] him to the core” and “offen[ding] his values” and “oppos[ing] everything he was about”, this may be a plausible scenario. If not, and the HSSC-group wishes to declare itself as championing the rights of “all students to voice their opinions without being silenced” and “encourage [all?] students to continue having these difficult conversations among their peers and colleagues and reflect on them”, perhaps ALL members of the HSSC who support this view should identify themselves, support the inquiry set up by UCT more than a year ago to investigate Dean Mayosi’s suicide and, perhaps, expose the “some” students who lethally vilified him and may employ a similar strategy in the future towards ‘gaslighting’ lecturers. Also, perhaps the facilitation of this process could be a priority for the soon-to-be-announced successor to Dean Mayosi?