Elizabeth Eyre is a final year student at the Faculty of Law. She is a black 21-year-old who grew up in the Eastern Cape.

Two main themes emerged in her PhotoVOICE 2.0 journey.

1. The problems with the University’s institutional response

Elizabeth Eyre is very frustrated with Stellenbosch University’s response to campus rape culture. She feels that the institution is prioritising its own image, rather than the lives and bodies of women and queer people, and that this lack of institutional response helps drive campus rape culture.

: “…(F)or me that was kind of a metaphor for how the executive is always pushing things under the rug and refuses to focus on what’s important and building a good foundation phase.”

“And when this meeting was held the rez head basically told the students that they were being dramatic and that this is really nothing…”

“…(T)he University basically tells the students that ‘this is not our problem, this is a police problem’.”

“There is a lack of communication of these issues (around campus rape culture) within male dominated spaces and… there needs to be a highlighting of campus rape culture issues from welcoming week through rez ed sessions and through socials as well.”

“Every single time a female student reports unwanted sexual attention or an incident, the first thing that (the institution) will sort of resort to will be mediation between the two. That really bothers me to the core, because as another student, even in legal court, they don’t expect the victim and the perpetrator to even come face to face. So the fact that the University resorts to this form of resolution for the two to meet and discuss what happened and then they make a conclusion – it’s just beyond me.”

“Residences forms a huge part of who we are on campus as a whole. So the first summer, one of the first things that people ask you when they meet you, even if you aren’t in town, will be ‘what residence are you from?’ And I picked that up in the way that the University sort of allows the things that are happening in residences to continue because they don’t do anything about it, and that was a huge problem.”

“…(T)hey pointed out how drinking culture definitely is one of the drivers of campus rape culture. But the biggest driver is how the University shifted blame towards the drinking culture.”

“…(T)he perpetrator in this situation was taken to private accommodation by the University instead of just kicking him out completely.”

“She said that she feels her housefather is a rape apologist.”

2. Normalised toxicity

Elizabeth Eyre had conversations with many different students, including LGBTI students, trying to understand what they saw as the drivers of campus rape culture. The norms and practices that students are socialised into, especially within residences, emerged as very problematic.

“With everything that I had collected, most things went back to (this men’s rez) and everyone’s experiences with (this rez). With regards to having their drinks spiked, or (men from this rez) telling them the weirdest things, or invalidating their sexuality, or telling them that they were less than the superior complex that (men from this rez) have. And that whole ‘traditions thing’ yet again… (It is) like they are protecting themselves from the outside world, like they want to keep everything as it is and not have anyone, you know, infiltrate their traditions.”

“So consent is not understood at all…”

“…(W)hich results in the voices of vulnerable groups never being able to penetrate leadership structures. And then this results in them never being able to have a say in the policies that these structures enact within the residence.”

“… (W)omen’s residences also help patriarchy sort of prevail …”

“…(A)nd that together with patriarchal values aids campus rape culture into growing even further.”

“…(T)his leads to the devaluing of certain bodies – women, black bodies, transgender bodies – anything that is other to what patriarchy is falls susceptible to rape.”

“And I don’t know why men’s residences are basically allowed to do whatever they want, and there are no repercussions for that.”

“Residence socials are romanticized in a way because… you are encouraged to hook up with someone at a residence social, and when there’s alcohol in the mix so many lines are blurred and misunderstood.”

Thank you for engaging with Elizabeth Eyre’s journey. To read more about the key themes that emerged from the project as a whole, please click here.