(Picture: University of the Free State)
- The University of the Free State will have discussions with students over the use of the term “Kovsies”.
- The SRC says it wants the term abolished because it doesn’t reflect a commitment to diversity, inclusivity and social justice.
- The students say the origin of “Kovsies” dates back to when the university was still called Universiteits Kollege van die Oranje Vrystaat.
The management of the University of the Free State (UFS) is expected to hold meetings with students over the use of the term “Kovsies”.
University spokesperson Lacea Loader said they have become aware of a statement made by the Student Representative Council (SRC) rejecting the use of the term.
“The executive is disappointed that the SRC chose to make the statement about the use of the term in public and only afterwards directed a formal request to Professor Puleng LenkaBula, Vice-Rector for Institutional Change, Student Affairs and Community Engagement.
“The university will enter into discussions with the SRC on the matter, since it should be addressed in accordance with set institutional procedures,” said Loader.
On 25 June, SRC president Katleho Lechoo posted a letter addressed to LenkaBula on social media, detailing that they want the word “Kosvies” to be abolished because the name is exclusionary and oppressive.
Students complained that they don’t feel as if they belong at the university.
They called for the discontinued use of the word by the university in all official and non-official platforms because it doesn’t reflect a commitment to diversity, inclusivity and social justice.
The letter explained that the name has its origins dating back to when the university was still called Universiteits Kollege van die Oranje Vrystaat.
It later become known as UKOVS, leading to the nickname Kovsie, the SRC said.
“[I]t was during the use of this name that the university practiced racial discrimination, with black, coloured and Indian academically deserving students not welcomed in the university. It was at this time, where only students of a certain racial group were allowed and were thus called Kovsies,” it said.
It added that the name Kovsies should have been removed in 2001, with the university’s name change, saying the continued use of the term is similar to using an apartheid flag and was exclusionary to students.