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What is ARNHE?

The Anti-Racism Network in Higher Education (ARNHE) is an organic structure that began operating in June 2008 in response to the events that happened at the Reitz Residence as well as the overall challenges of racism in Higher Education institutions in South Africa. ARNHE facilitates the co-ordination of events to provide a space for sustained critical dialogue amongst academics, higher education administrators, students and staff, on the impact of racism and the intersections between race and other social asymmetries such as gender, xenophobia, class, and differentiated ability within the higher education sector.  

ARNHE co-hosts two colloquia per year and so far it has co-hosted colloquia with nine higher education institutions in South Africa. The prospect is to include all institutions of higher education in the country.

ARNHE is currently being hosted by the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice at the University of the Free State.

The Executive Committee of ARNHE is constituted as follows: Chair: Melissa Steyn (WITS), Xoliswa Mtose (UNIZULU), Allan Zinn (NMMU), JC Van de Merwe (UFS), Ronelle Carolissen (SU) and Tammy Shefer (UWC).

For more information on ARNHE initiatives contact JC van der Merwe ( or visit the website:

Racism is a system of beliefs about one’s physical and social attributes that shapes practices which sustain the unequal treatment of groups and individuals.  Systemic racism is defined as racism that is supported by deep-rooted institutional processes, practices and structures.  Individual racism draws on the power of group membership to discriminate unfairly against groups and individuals perceived to be inferior.

Anti-racism in higher education is an action-orientated approach for institutional, systemic and individual change to address racism and the power it draws on at all levels of university life. It seeks to create awareness within university communities and enable them to recognize and act on racism when it occurs. Anti-racism also seeks to create, dialogue and understanding for a diverse university community.

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The Anti-Racism Network in Higher Education in its mission is committed to:
• Enquiry on the impact of apartheid on higher education;

• The elimination of racism, racial prejudice and all forms of unfair discrimination in all higher education institutions;

• Academic freedom, critical scholarship and free and creative enquiry, in an environment that is anti-racist and anti-discriminatory;

• Promoting culturally responsive practice, research and scholarship and other anti-racism activities;

• Engendering, through its activities, processes, practices and structures an anti-racist culture, which includes respect for human rights, dignity and diversity;

• Planning for and promoting equity, equal opportunity and fair treatment through inclusive policies and practices in all spheres of university life;

• Research, teaching and social responsibility that promotes staff and student awareness of their social position and responsibilities towards building an anti-racist society;

• Modeling anti-racist practices in our personal and institutional behaviour;

• Providing ongoing education in anti-racism;

• Ensuring that cases of racial discrimination and harassment are dealt with in a manner that is fair, urgent, expeditious and consistent;

• Pursuing all of the above in ways that value all members of staff, students and the broader community that we serve and with whom we collaborate.

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1. To commence a sustained critical dialogue amongst academics and higher education administrators about the continuing impact of racism on the higher education sector, as well as the means to programmatically counter this impact.

2. To examine the ongoing impact of racism on teaching, learning and research in the HE sector in South Africa (e.g. the impact of racism on classroom practices, curriculum development, research production, behaviour of students and lecturers, assessment, promotions and appointments, the career advancement of academics, the availability of mentorship and support.)

3. To examine the impact of the widely reported racist incidents at various South African universities over the last few years, both on the higher education sector and in broader South African society.

4. To develop interventions that can assist in addressing the issues raised under points 1 to 3 above

5. To explore the need for focused anti-racist programmes in the HE sector.

6. To grow a national network of scholars and higher education administrators committed to the eradication of racism in the HE sector and beyond

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Equality - Promote equality of individuals and opportunity.

Human dignity - The dignity of all individuals is affirmed and fostered.

Freedom - We promote an open society where the expression of a multiplicity of opinions and experiences are actively encouraged and critical thinking and scholarship contribute to the advancement of social justice for all humanity.

Integrity - We commit ourselves to the highest standards of personal ethic, and conducting our activities in an accountable and transparent manner.

Respect for diversity - We foster an environment in which diversity is appreciated, respected and celebrated for the advancement of accessibility, inclusivity and social justice.

Non-discrimination - We commit to the advancement of non-discrimination and basic human rights and maintaining a high degree of diversity awareness.

Social justice and active / responsible citizenship - We recognize our mutual interdependence and vulnerability and assume responsibility for the achievement of the goals and objectives of ANRHE towards the advancement of social justice.

Social activism and advocacy - We provide a platform for activism and advocacy for the advancement of equality and social justice.

Scholarship and Innovation - We promote the utilization of scholarship to inform and adopt innovative approaches for the promotion of alternatives to policies, structures, processes and systems at sectoral and national levels.


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