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Colgate University

Publication Date

Spring 2014

Program Name

South Africa: Multiculturalism and Human Rights


This independent study project analyses the implications of democracy on the higher education system following the end of Apartheid, through a small scale research project which included, classroom, social, and campus observations, as well as in-depth interviews with black African students at Historically White Universities on the Western Cape including the University of Stellenbosch and University of Cape Town. Though these sites cannot be representative of the higher education system as a whole, they do provide a particular insight, especially in regards to the complexities of integration in both academic and social settings at previously white only universities. This study should give one a better understanding of the experiences, feelings, and daily occurrences of a group of black African students as the maneuver through these historically white spaces. In this study I hypothesize that although black students have been physically integrated into the space, there is still marginalization and stigma around being a black student at these historically white universities. I believe, these feelings of being ostracized or stereotyped could only be enhanced by the increasing debates surrounding Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) and Employment Equity (EE) in mainstream South African society, as well as Transformation Policy debates and Language debates at the University of Cape Town and University of Stellenbosch respectively. I concede that although obvious racial differences may be physically apparent there will be students who do not hold these feelings of being ostracized, marginalized, or stereotyped at these universities. This research has been structured to analyze the experience of a small grouping of black students prior to their entrance to university, not limited to home life and community, juxtaposed against their individual experiences at University of Cape Town or University of Stellenbosch. At the conclusion of this Independent Study Project one should better understand the feelings of these students and whether they have sentiments of forced assimilation into the majority university culture, or if all students feel they culturally share the space equally. In conclusion, the information which can be taken away from this project include but are not limited to, a better understanding of ever changing definition of “disadvantage”, analysis of policy debates within each institution, and real experiences from real students at these universities.


Education | Inequality and Stratification | Race and Ethnicity


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