Monday, 30 January 2012

Have we failed our children? - Initiation

To take them to higher institutions of learning that still carry on with the age-old initiation practices of bullying and emotional abuse?

I have to tell my first year that it is not as bad as it seems, although I despised the practices years ago when I was subjected to it.

The bullying stays the same!

I feel that I have failed my child!

I have entrusted my child to be taken care of in a residence where they are subjected to violent practices I would never have done to my own child.
Now apparently I have given “permission” for seniors who are only two to three years older to subject my daughter to tyranny!

They call it “Ontvangs- en Bekendstelling” (Welcome & Introduction), but it’s far from the truth!

  • She is afraid to walk in her own residence because of the verbal abuse they are subjected to when encountering a senior or House Committee (HC) member.
  • She is afraid to go to the toilet!
  • She does not get enough sleep, and that has been the case for two weeks now.
  • After they have finished with them - subjected them to all kinds of abusive rituals – they have to “prepare stuff” for the following day. Usually after 12 at night!
  • They are forced to look down when encountering a senior, but they have to know all of the senior’s names (without looking at them)!
  • They are forced to address the entire senior corps as Sir or Miss.
  • I have to look at status updates such as “Hate this place!”; “Hate this! I am so over this crap!”; “No sleep for me tonight!”; “Do not want to go to the residence!”
  • She said they were told that they would be in big trouble if they complain!
  • They are not allowed to go anywhere without permission, and they are kept busy 24/7 with stuff such as “flowers” folding for the upcoming Rag on Saturday.

This is definitely not orientation, but initiation!

It doesn’t help to tell me that one day she will look back and laugh at this! 
This is not how a society should treat its “first year’s”!

Why can’t all the parents stand up and say “enough is enough”?
We don’t want our children subjected to this!

Instead we are scared to become a lone voice for fear of our child being victimized!

I am so sorry, my child!
I have thought we have moved past this!

This is happening at NWU Potchefstroom at the residences.
Judging by Twitter and the newspapers it is happening at other universities as well…
We have not evolved at all!

Related post:
Orientation seems a lot like initiation


  1. It's infantilising on to of being barbaric. The whole thing belongs with apartheid! Are we really telling our kids they are adults now, old enough to drive and have sex and join the military and kill people, but they still have to subject themselves to this type of bullshit - and who bestows the authority on these 'senoirs'? Obedience for it's own sake, powerlust. The whole thing is ugly. What will your daughter do when she's a senior? Hopefully avoid this type of nonsense because she'a too mature!

  2. I also went through initiation in the middle nineties, when things were a lot more difficult. Had to swim through old rotten food, little sleep, insults etc. But you know what? This resulted in the 1st years pulling together against the seniors, got a great team feeling going. When the initiation were done, the seniors reverted to being human beings, and the whole res had the same team feeling. We felt like we were the best res on campus. Since we all suffered through this, we all had a feeling of accomplishment when it was done. Life is tough, even more tough after res. For the first time in your life, as a 1st year, you are required to show character as you cannot rely on your parents for backup, or to run to them for any little old thing. This will serve you well later in life. I became lifelong friends with a few of my seniors. Do you know what happens to the child should him/her complain to anyone outside of res? Ostracised from res life, completely. Ask anyone who complained about it. Is it fair? Probably not, but that is just life. If your character is not strong going into res, it will either become strong or fail completely. I would stand by my child, if I were you. Tell her to stick it out. It will change, you will be much better off just shutting up and going through it. Thousands have done so before her, and are none the worse for wear.

  3. I think it's ridiculous. I have a 'varsity degree but studied through Unisa. So none of the initiation crap. And you know what...I'm not worse of than those who went through it! They don't have better character than me! Maybe worse...maybe they think it's okay for "senior"staff members to treat younger staff members like cr@p.

    I'm with you on this Karen. It's stupid and should stop.

  4. I didn't know that this was still going on at Varsities. I would never go as far as Margot and say that it belongs to Apartheid...because that would make it an Afrikaans thing. This happens in English universities too. I just wonder what is going to happen when she becomes a senior. All the seniors were once first year it time to get their own back...or do they walk away from the practice?

  5. Hi - this is my second attempt to comment, let's hope it allows me (Blogger acting up?)
    I wouldn't equate apartheid and Afrikaans - plenty of English-speakers supported it after all. But I do think the teaching to blindly follow authority and the insane rules and regulations - to be followed by people in authority by no reason other than that they've vested the authority in themselves - is dangerous, and reminiscent of dangerous political policies for creating false senses of identity and belonging. Obviously this is only my opinion but I feel this is the real, grown-up world, and siding with artificial groupings such as who happens to be placed in your residence just seems ridiculous to me...

  6. I feel sad for you and your daughter :(

  7. Thank you very much for your comments!
    (Also my second time trying to comment on my own blog! Thanks Blogger!)
    I have been trying to think what I have gained from my own initiation years back, and I can't think of a single positive thing! I was shit scared, and I hated the HC and the senior after that with a passion! I could not for the life of me understand how supposedly well-educated people are behaving like that!
    And it is still the same today! (My daughter now complains mostly about the seniors having free reign over them!)
    I phoned today and the official mantra is that they do not have initiation practices anymore!
    How do you fight against that?
    Especially since I am too scared to give names or even cal out the residence name, in case of being ostracized... (Thanks Gert! We are well aware of it!)

  8. This is suppose to be a year they will remember, instead it sounds like a year they will never remember. What's going on?

  9. UCT, Grahamnstown, University of Natal and NMMU have all banned initiation for years. I have friends who attended these universities as far back as 1986 and initiation didn't exist. I never went through it. I don't think we where less close as a group of first years. We all got to know each other as friends. It seems to have stuck at certain universities and I think its time they let go of the past. I went through initiation at boarding school when I was 13 it was nothing like the Uni version but I don't think it bonded us at all swimming laps at 3am.

  10. Agreed. Initiation is barbaric and my blood boils when i hear of these incidents in the news.

  11. I went to Maritzburg Varsity and there was no initiation like this.

    Without sounding funny - it is predominantly the Afrikaans varsities - Pretoria still does it!!!

    Should my children want to go to one of these varisties I would rather look for off campus accomodation for them.

    I dont see the point of this and I would be on campus demanding it be stopped which I know would do my kids no favours so I would rather just avoid it all totally!


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