Date: 5th August 2019 

Progress SA to convene an alternative Academic Freedom Committee (AFC) at UCT

 ‘Dare to think for yourself.’ — Voltaire

Following a series of events at UCT that have signified declining support for academic freedom from University management and the current Academic Freedom Committee (AFC), Progress SA has decided to convene an alternative AFC at UCT. We hereby call for nominations to the alternate committee.

The function of this committee will be to monitor events at, and decisions made by, the University in the interests of ensuring that teaching, learning and intellectual inquiry is not hindered by narrow political and ideological considerations. The resolutions of the committee will be made public in the form of statements. The committee will keep the University accountable, and ultimately ensure that the principles of academic freedom remain sacrosanct at UCT.

In keeping with the definition offered by the UCT Academics Union and academic freedom organisations all over the free world, we define academic freedom as:

The belief that the protection of scholars’ right to freely learn, teach and communicate ideas or facts (including those that are inconvenient to various political groups or the state) is essential to the mission of a university. In essence, it means simply that no member of a university may face any kind of institutional ostracisation, repression, job loss, marking prejudice or other form of sanction for expressing or wanting to hear about any idea or fact.

Academic freedom is enshrined in section 16 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 as an incident of freedom of expression, and is a fundamental human right.

It is unfortunate that hard-won freedoms such as the aforementioned remain under threat by a few ideologically-obsessed and biased incumbents of the University’s AFC, which continues to fail in its primary duties, in addition to failing dismally at consulting the general university community on matters of importance that concern students, academics and alumni who have a vested interest in the success of the institution.

Progress SA encourages freedom-loving individuals, student leaders, alumni and academic staff at the University of Cape Town to nominate themselves or others to serve on the alternate AFC.

To nominate yourself or another, please complete the nomination form.

Submissions must be received by Sunday, August 25, 2019.

Media Enquiries:

Scott Roberts (Secretary: Progress SA)