A Durban University of Technology (DUT) Dialogue called: We are in this together: Responding to the Conflicts, was held at the Steve Biko Library, last Friday (8 March 2019).
Under the helm of Crispin Hemson, Director of the International Centre of Nonviolence (ICON), which has a close relationship with DUT, as there is a Memorandum of Agreement that commits both ICON and DUT to collaborative work to mainstream nonviolence into the curricula of DUT.
He added that recent events have brought home the need for a more unified, mutually supportive, DUT community. “The purpose of this DUT Dialogue is not to get into the issues at stake in the conflicts on campus. It is rather to hear from members of the DUT community their experiences, feelings and concerns, so we can take action that will bring people together, not create further division. The aim of the DUT Dialogues is to be an open platform where anyone who is connected to DUT is free to speak, to be heard and to listen to others,” he said.
Issues debated at the open discussion included giving an opportunity to students and staff alike to speak about their experiences during the recent conflict which had occurred on campus, especially during the last student protest action.
Questions raised were as DUT stakeholders what can staff and students do as a way forward from this point. Also, there is a research project which is in action that entails the same group of people that were affected during the recent strikes, which will delve into understanding why conflicts occur so rapidly and end in violence, as well as finding possible solutions to such issues.
The discussion group was facilitated by Phumzile Xulu from the Engagement Office.
She thanked Hemson for opening up the space and stressed that it was very pertinent to have such platforms to talk about what has been happening at DUT and what can make us (staff and students) feel hopeful from what has happened, and take responsibility to change things, going forward.
Matters such as lecturers not understanding the mix of transformation and the issue of violence seeming to be so normalised during protests, are just some of the problems that were mentioned.
Professor Geoffrey Harris, from International Centre of Nonviolence (ICON), Research and Postgraduate Support, who was also part of the discussion, spoke on the violence factor and its impact. “There were two types of violence, one is intra-personal, the other is violence in terms of structure.”
Another staff member spoke about the spirit of Ubuntu which is lacking on campus.
The discussion ended with Hemson highlighting that more talks are needed for people to understand the cultural differences and to mainly understand each other and continue dialogues, going forward into the future.
Pictured: Crispin Hemson, Director of ICON.