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Kindness, social justice, courage

- By Vivienne Rowland

Kindness, social justice and courage were the three main points of an address by Professor Melissa Steyn to graduands at the Faculty of Humanities’ graduation ceremony on Monday, 30 June 2014.

Steyn, the founding director of the Wits Centre for Diversity Studies and the Department of Science and Technology- National Research Foundation National Chair in Critical Diversity Studies, reminded the graduating students that they represent a very important part of society.

“As graduates with the particular qualifications that you have, you must know that you hold a very important kind of consciousness as you move forward and take your positions of responsibility,” said Steyn.

She said that it is important in any society that a critical group of people hold the capacity for social self-reflection. “As the graduates of this faculty, you are eminently equipped to ask the critical questions as decisions get made.”

Steyn also quoted the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu: “Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness has to do with knowing our connection with what makes us human. I would like to think that humanities graduates are the designated thinkers of our society,” said Steyn. .

Professor Adam Habib, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Wits University, had stern words for the fresh graduands: “You represent hope in a society that is struggling to rebuild itself. In this unequal world, there are millions of people who never have the privilege to attend a university,” said Habib.