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Centre for the Advancement of Non-racialism and Democracy

ARNHE

What is ARNHE?

Anti-Racism Network in Higher Education (ARNHE)

The ARNHE is an organic structure that began operating in June 2008 in response to the events that happened at the Reitz Residence of the University of the Free State, South Africa, and overall challenges of racism in higher education institutions. Invitations to a colloquium to discuss the above were sent to colleagues at universities in Gauteng and elsewhere in the country.

One of the aims of the colloquium was to establish a network on anti-racism. At that point, no thought was given to who would drive the network and how it would operate. It was essentially meant to be an organic structure.

The colloquium, held at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), recommended that a second colloquium take place in October 2008 and its purpose was to draft a submission to the Ministerial Committee on Transformation, Social Cohesion and the Elimination of Discrimination in higher education institutions.

This colloquium took place at the University of Stellenbosch. On the release of the Ministerial Report a follow up colloquium was organised at the University of Cape Town in June 2009.

On the 24th March 2010 a colloquium was held at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, hosted by the newly established Centre for the Advancement of Non-Racialism & Democracy (CANRAD). A resolution was taken to formalise ARHNE as a structure that will be able to drive the mission of the network. An Executive Committee was elected for a period of one year at which point an election will be held at the next opportune colloquium.

HISTORY OF ARNHE FORMATION

In June 2008, the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) hosted a colloquium that would ensure that universities considered the challenge that had been put to the country by the events that occurred at the Reitz Residence Hall of the University of the Free State. Invitations were sent to colleagues at universities in Gauteng and elsewhere in the country. One of the aims of the colloquium was to establish a network on anti-racism. At that point, no thought was given to who would drive the network and how it would operate. It was essentially meant to be an organic structure.

The Wits Colloquium recommended that a second colloquium take place and that its purpose be to draft a submission to the Ministerial Committee on Transformation, Social Cohesion and the Elimination of Discrimination in Higher Education Institutions. This colloquium took place at Stellenbosch University. On the release of the Ministerial Report, a follow-up colloquium was organised at the University of Cape Town. Funding for these colloquia came from the University of Stellenbosch, the University of Cape Town, the University of the Western Cape, and Wits.

It is important to note that at the time of the Wits colloquium, there were specific relationships and ties that existed between Wits and partner institutions, such as the University of Cape Town, the University of Stellenbosch and the University of the Western Cape. At the time, Professor Tammy Shefer, an academic from the University of the Western Cape, was a Carnegie Resident Equity Scholar hosted by Professor Norman Duncan in the School of Human and Community Development at Wits. In addition, the new Transformation Director at Wits had just left her position as Transformation Manager at the University of Cape Town, where she had worked on a committee drafting a policy on anti-racism and had collaborated closely with the Transformation Director of the University of Stellenbosch. The links that emerged, for what now appears to be an interim committee of the anti-racism network, developed informally through well established contacts of the organisers of the colloquium.

It is fortunate that the idea of the network was seen to be a good one and there have been expressions of interest from all South Africa’s universities to participate in the network. As an interim committee, we believe that the time has come to ensure a more sustainable network; one that has a formal organisational structure that can sustain the work required of the network and reflects a commitment to the principle of diversity in terms of demographics, gender and institutional history.

The Anti-Racism Network currently does not have a set of objectives. We have worked according to the objectives that were defined at the Wits Colloquium in 2009.

These objectives are:

  1. To commence a sustained critical dialogue amongst academics and higher education administrators about the continuing impact of racism on the higher education sector, as well as the means to programmatically counter this impact.
  2. To examine the ongoing impact of racism on teaching, learning and research in the higher education sector in South Africa (e.g. the impact of racism on classroom practices, curriculum development, research production, behaviour of students and lecturers, assessment, promotions and appointments, the career advancement of academics, the availability of mentorship and support).
  3. To examine the impact of the widely reported racist incidents at various South African universities over the last few years, both on the higher education sector and in broader South African society.
  4. To develop interventions that can assist in addressing the issues raised under points 1 to 3 above.
  5. To explore the need for focused anti-racist programmes in the higher education sector.