Outcome of the investigation into the Educ226a Life Skills Exam
- Wits University
Report from the University regarding concerns around the Life Skills examination paper.
Following allegations that the EDUC226A Life Skills examination paper had been “leaked” last week, we instituted an investigation into the matter, and received a report this week, the key elements of which are summarised hereunder.
At no time was any examination question or paper “leaked”. Different communications around the structure and form of the examination were shared by two individual lecturers on separate occasions and independently of each other with students in class, via Sakai, and via email. The integrity of this examination was maintained but given the uncertainty that these practices may have created, the School will continue to explore ways through which examination briefings are given to students in order to prevent any perceptions of unfairness.
Following a meeting with concerned students on the day of the examination, it was agreed that an alternative examination would be written as a “take-home” assessment, as discussions around this matter had already cut into the time for which the said examination was scheduled. The integrity of this examination was fully maintained.
Importantly, the evidence obtained as part of the investigation does not support the allegations of racism made by some students. Whilst there may have been mixed communications from different individuals around the structure and form of the examination, the investigation reveals that the lecturers were consistent in how they responded to students – irrespective of race.
While allegations of racism could not be upheld in this particular case, it is important to emphasise that the University maintains a zero tolerance approach towards any form of racism, discrimination and unfair practices at all times.
It is unfortunate that the immediate reaction of some students was to racialise the incident on social media, without any investigation or subsequent evidence.
Social media and the media is increasingly becoming a first resort for individuals and student societies to highlight their concerns in the public domain. When such actions are undertaken without evidence, this sometimes leads to people being unfairly criticised and vilified. Whilst students have a right to raise issues, they should do so through the University’s formal structures and in line with the University’s escalation policy.
Students are reminded that all complaints must be investigated in line with the University’s policies and rules. Complaints should be reported to the relevant Head of School or should be escalated as appropriate via the relevant institutional channels. This includes allegations of prejudice, discrimination and bias against which the University firmly stands.
The Dean of Students will meet with the relevant individuals, students, student leaders and staff members who were involved in this incident. Students are reminded that they are accountable for their actions and words, both within the University environment, in the media and on social media.
All members of the University community are bound by a common commitment to follow due process pertaining to the investigation of complaints. Any student or staff member who feels that their rights have been infringed through this incident, may lay a formal complaint.
Where staff and students feel unfairly victimised, they are entitled to lay a complaint which will be fully investigated and acted upon, in line with the University’s rules, policies and procedures.
The University considers this matter closed. We wish all students well for the remainder of the examinations.
SENIOR EXECUTIVE TEAM
15 NOVEMBER 2019