Rhodes University’s Vice-Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, was awarded the Dean’s Award on Friday, 1 July 2016, during the Choral Evensong at the Anglican Cathedral of St Michael and St George. This award was established earlier this year to acknowledge any individual who has made a significant contribution to the life of the Grahamstown Community. Dr Mabizela is the recipient for 2016, and the first ever to receive the award as the Dean honoured the Vice-Chancellor for his values-based and ethical leadership.
“The Award is being given at a challenging time for the University in the light of the recent protests on campus against rape and rape culture. Led by Mabizela, the University has been very clear in its rejection of all forms of sexual assault and harassment, and is doing all it can to have policies and support systems in place to deal with such incidents, and to engage with the broader culture. At the same time, the Vice-Chancellor and the University Leadership has had to ensure that everyone’s rights, and safety, are protected. We support the efforts that are being made to do so. The Dean’s Award is one way to acknowledge this, to publicly affirm the Vice-Chancellor and to thank him for his personal example and his values-based, ethical leadership,” shared The Very Reverend Andrew Hunter, Dean of Grahamstown.
Having received the award, Dr Mabizela addressed the congregation.
“In April this year, our students very courageously brought to the national consciousness the pervasive and pernicious scourge of sexual violence in our society. I commend our students for the leadership they demonstrated. During the period of the student protests, a number of students came to my office to share with me their experiences. Their stories were so painfully and frighteningly similar. They would typically start by saying “my stepfather raped me when I was seven years old; my cousin raped me when I was nine years old; my uncle raped me when I was eight years old; my neighbour raped me when I was ten years old and I never told my mother about this as I did not think she would believe me. What the protests have done is to rip open that wound that was never attended to,” recalled the Vice-Chancellor.
He continued that the wounds of the young people in our society have not been properly addressed in order that healing may begin. Rape and sexual violence cuts across all societal fault lines.
“I urge all parents to create time and space to discuss the issues of rape and sexual violence with their children,” pleaded Dr Mabizela.
He further thanked the Dean for the Award and acknowledged the good work of his staff.
“I’m honoured to receive (this award) on behalf of all students and staff of Rhodes University. I am inordinately privileged and exceptionally honoured to be part of the leadership of that fine institution. I’m just the face of many wonderful women and men in our University who go above and beyond the call of duty to serve our community and humankind,” shared Dr Mabizela.
Mabizela highlighted the fact that the higher education sector and our young democracy are experiencing challenges.
“There are treacherous quagmires, steep hills, sharp bends, ravines and potholes ahead. We will need your support and prayers to remain on course if we are to realise the society of our dreams encapsulated in our Constitution,” said Mabizela.
The service featured the Cathedral Choir and works by South African composers and authors.
“We are delighted as a University community that the local Anglican church has chosen to publicly affirm the personal example and ethical leadership of Dr Mabizela through the Dean’s award. His example has been an inspiration to many, and a challenge to all to walk in the shoes of others before seeking to judge, to show patience, and restraint when we see others struggling, and to draw clear lines of acceptable behaviour when the rights of others are being infringed. His leadership has been not only values-based and ethical, but also courageous and selfless. We envy no other university their Vice-Chancellor,” shared Dr Peter Clayton, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Rhodes University.
“We are particularly glad to see community structures expressing public support for this man and what he stands for, when, during the recent student protests, some have irresponsibly sought to malign him, using fabrications designed to break the institution and its leadership.
This Vice-Chancellor has consistently turned the other cheek, and done what is moral and right, and in the interests of the majority of people, no matter what the pressure has been. And he has demonstrated compassion and care for all, especially those who have sought to vilify him and his senior colleagues in their need to lash out indiscriminately,” added Clayton.
The University joins the Community in celebrating our good fortune in having a person of this calibre as part of our Community.
Source: Communications and Advancement
Please help us to raise funds so that we can give all our students a chance to access online teaching and learning. Covid-19 has disrupted our students' education. Don't let the digital divide put their future at risk. Visit www.ru.ac.za/rucoronavirusgateway to donate