Measuring the Effect of Diversity Interventions at a South Af ...

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  • Title: Measuring the Effect of Diversity Interventions at a South African Residential University
  • Author(s): Vivian de Klerk
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Diversity in Organizations, Communities & Nations
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities, and Nations: Annual Review
  • Keywords: Diversity, Prejuduce, University, Stereotype
  • Volume: 10
  • Issue: 2
  • Year: 2010
  • ISSN: 1447-9532 (Print)
  • ISSN: 1447-9583 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/1447-9532/CGP/v10i02/39558
  • Citation: de Klerk, Vivian, and Sarah Radloff. 2010. "Measuring the Effect of Diversity Interventions at a South African Residential University." The International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities, and Nations: Annual Review 10 (2): 25-46. doi:10.18848/1447-9532/CGP/v10i02/39558.
  • Extent: 22 pages

Abstract

There have been many changes in post-apartheid South Africa since 1994, and one of the primary issues attracting attention within institutions of higher education has been diversity, as it pertains to social, cultural, linguistic, religious and racial differences. The challenge facing Universities has been to respond quickly to the national imperative to facilitate transformation, both in terms of day-to-day institutional practices as well as perceptions, attitudes and mindsets, which, while very elusive and invisible, are the most powerful determinants of the prospects for success in any efforts to achieve real change. While diversity pervades all aspects of academic life, including student access and support, staff recruitment and retention, curriculum issues, research and scholarship and the social and learning environment on campus, this paper focuses on residence life at Rhodes University in the Eastern Cape and reports on the extent to which recent interventions aimed at enhancing the acceptance of diversity have succeeded. After a description of the context and the nature of interventions which were organised to raise awareness of diversity, the paper reports on the results of a comprehensive survey which was carried out in the residences in 2007 and 2008, and focuses primarily on aspects of race and culture. The aim of the paper is two-fold: to describe a range of strategies which may be used to counteract prejudice in an institution, and to offer a method of measuring the effectiveness of these interventions, as a possible means of taking regular (if approximate) ‘readings’ of an institution’s ‘prejudice barometer’.