Constructions of Gender-based Violence among Residence Students at UKZN

Tarryn Du Randt

Organization: University of KwaZulu-Natal

Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is a significant problem on university campuses. This knowledge prompted a qualitative study which explored the various discourses surrounding GBV amongst residence students at UKZN.  The findings of this study revealed the powerful influence that student’s subjectivity and ‘home culture’ socialisation has on a system of discourses that perpetuate GBV. These discourses appear to reproduce the patriarchal ideals of masculinity and femininity, and the role of women and men that condone and promote gender-based violence on campus. In addition, the idea of a unique university culture seems to affect the way in which student’s relate to each other on campus. The influence of this system of discourses is seen in student’s understanding of GBV; their relation to gay students; the negotiation of intimate partnerships; and their behaviour as bystanders to GBV. These findings highlight a distinct gap not only in the policy and support services surrounding GBV in institutions of higher education, but also in the institutional culture. This collective consciousness, informed by our socialised values, appears to inadvertently perpetuate GBV on campus. If we are to see change in our universities, a paradigm shift in this culture needs to be supported by entire university communities, and especially by the leaders of these institutions.