The Office of Global Studies and the Sociology Department at PLNU announced that they would be starting a partnership program with the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa which would allow students to travel and study abroad for a full semester in Cape Town.
The program was announced during the biannual on-campus study abroad fair. Since then the program has had to be postponed until further notice due to unsafe living conditions at the university partner school in Cape Town.
The students of the University of Western Cape have been denied the right to their education based on their racial background and financial standings. The denial of courses being offered to students from the campus has caused uproar from students.
Violent protests have been taking place on the campus since the Chancellor and staff members announced the cancellation of certain courses. Students have also written letters to the Chancellor of the school and faculty members with a list of demands that must be met in order for the protests to stop and things to return back to order. The institution has since offered alternative exam days for the students that still want to stay on track and continue in their education.
Jamie Gates, a Professor in the Sociology Department and the liaison between the two schools, has been working with both universities (alongside Dr. Lindsey Lupo) to try and facilitate a program where students are able to experience a different culture while getting a well-rounded education.
Unfortunately, the program has had to be postponed until further notice do to “student protests and violence on our partner campus”, said Gates. The protests have gotten to the point where it would be unsafe and would put the prospective students in an environment where they didn’t know anything about the culture or the issues at hand.
Miranda Ramos, a sophomore at PLNU majoring in Sociology, expressed her excitement about the program during an in-person interview. “I was most excited about leaving the country and embracing new cultures,” Ramos said when asked about what she looked forward to about the new program. This program wasn’t just an opportunity for students of all backgrounds to experience education in another country, it was a chance for them to fully immerse themselves in a new way of living. Ramos even expressed her sadness and concern for the students of Western Cape saying that she hopes that trouble isn’t stirring up again.
Professor Gates said that he “stands in solidarity with the students in South Africa that are concerned about the injustices and disparities in their lives and in their campuses.”
It is saddening to see students across the world experiencing these horrible events and being left to fend for themselves in areas that the school is supposed to provide assistance. Gates added that he is “sad that our key institutional partner, UWC, is facing such an uncertain future.”
Both institutions are doing their best to get the program back up and running as soon as possible and are hoping to have a new learning experience for students at both universities come next fall.