For immediate release:
LitNet, 6 May 2021
University of Fort Hare responds to misleading letter by Dr Susan Smith
The University of Fort Hare is disappointed in a misleading letter with unfounded statements published by Dr Susan Smith on LitNet. In the letter, Dr Smith deprives readers of important information and other developments, resulting in an unbalanced piece that was contextually distorted.
The fact that the letter was issued moments after a meeting where the author had participated with other colleagues in the language disciplines and personally presented proposals on Afrikaans which were still being deliberated on, illustrates to us bad faith participation and an intention to portray the faculty and university in a negative light.
While the letter purports to deal with the status loss and marginalisation of Afrikaans in higher education, the author advances a narrative of institutional discrimination based on her “personal experiences in the past week with those sitting in high management chairs”. This simply is not true.
Concerningly, she fails to mention to readers that the performance of all programmes and modules in all faculties and departments of the University of Fort Hare are under review following an independent academic assessment review process and exercise in 2018/19. It is not discrimination, but a process of renewal and reinvention.
Dr Smith will be unable to provide proof of her misleading claim that the department’s doors have been shut as the misleading headline of her letter suggests. At the time of the University of Fort Hare authoring this response, no decision has been taken by the senate.
It simply was irresponsible of the author to publish a letter with a misleading headline implying Afrikaans programmes and modules will be discontinued at the university, when this is still being discussed.
On the points raised in the piece that the University of Fort Hare is financially unstable and under administration, the university strongly refutes these allegations. The author is fully aware that the university received a clean bill of health and was lifted out of administration in 2020.