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Transforming Grace

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Transforming Grace

Rob Walker, Campus Director of CPUT Student Y, reflects on what God been doing at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) over the last twenty years. In the face of radical change and much needed institutional transformation, the Student Y team remains energised to serve Christ and his kingdom in the shadows of Table Mountain.

When all of South Africa first went to the polls in 1994, CPUT – as a technical university – did not exist. The Cape Technikon had been birthed a few years earlier on its Zonnebloem Campus, with the landscaped gardens just taking shape, the walkways still brand new and the campus having an exciting vibrancy to it, much like a five year old child with lots of energy!

20 years later the institution has changed its name, has rapidly moved through the rebellious teenager years and is only now entering its young adulthood. It is desperately searching for its own identity as 6 major Western Cape institutions have merged to form this new university known as the ‘Cape Peninsula University of Technology’: Cape Tech, Pen Tech, Mowbray Teachers Training college, Granger Bay Hotel School, Wellington campus and Athlone Nursing School (along with a few more minor campuses).

The CPUT Cape Town campus has grown from a racially segregated campus in the nineties to one fully integrated and reflecting the diversity of the country and continent that it seeks to serve. The campus is made up of 20 percent international students, more than 70 percent black students and approximately 7 percent white students. This has been no small accomplishment, creating access to tertiary educations for a rich diversity of students, many of whom would have been denied such opportunities during Apartheid.

I am thankful to God that, by his grace, the Student Y has not only survived this process of transformation, but has learned – and continues to learn – how to adapt to the changing times and how to engage a totally different campus 20 years later. For instance, we now have new majority- and, consequently, minority groups on campus together with new religions, new worldviews and a highly politicized campus culture. Furthermore, the changes that the democratic government has implemented in order to give all South Africans an equal opportunity to further their education, has meant that CPUT has more students from disadvantaged backgrounds. In addition to the expected adjustments to university life (and, for many, city life), many CPUT students are incredibly vulnerable as their needs are varied and complex. For example, in many cases students are exposed to corrupt and harmful means of supporting themselves and – often – to survive. In short, varsity life presents students with tremendous opportunities as well as dangerous pitfalls.

It is in this “soil” that the Student Y seeks to sow gospel seed. Being very aware of their manifold needs, students are often open to God’s Word and the One to whom it points: the Lord Jesus. Against the backdrop of a country that has been in a prolonged process of change, some things do not change all that much: students’ hearts are still self-centered, they need God, and they are lonely and in desperate need of a loving community. The Student Y has not changed in trying to be this gospel-centered community to the campus. In spite of all the demographic, financial, political- and physical changes that the campus has seen, God’s kingdom continues to grow more than ever across all boundaries. For this we praise Him, and may He continue to give us the necessary humility to persevere in our service of Christ and his kingdom at CPUT.  – Rob Walker

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