Many higher education institutions in South Africa have responded to the Fallist movement of 2015-2016 with increased securitization measures. The #FeesMustFall movement was characterized by students’ disdain with the colonial structures that pervade higher education institutions. The movement called for free, decolonised education in South Africa. This study aimed to evaluate how increased securitization measures such as biometric access control changes students’ experience of place at a South African campus within the context of a campus environment, which now functions as a gated community. The study employed Foucault’s framework of modern power in an attempt to examine how students experience place at the university and how discourses create and sustain spatial (in)equalities at higher education institutions in South Africa. This theory examined how power acts as a productive force, by producing the discourses that are internalized by students and as a regulating force that students of the institution are subject to. In this way, the discourses can create and maintain various spaces and have varying effects on students’ experience of their campus environment. In order to examine students’ subject positionings within this space, the research study followed a narrative approach and included a twofold analysis, which consisted of a theoretically driven thematic narrative analysis and a performative narrative analysis. The results of the analyses showed that students’ experience place as a constant state of (be)longing to a space that both enhances and threatens their sense of belonging there, especially relating to the recent implementation of biometric access control measures, which enhances their sense of safety and dehumanizes them at the same time. In addition, this occurs in light of the dominant discourses of safety, privilege and capitalism, which sustains spatial inequalities in a campus environment and remain reflective of spatial injustice. The synthesis of the results indicated that university spaces are reflective of many obstacles that hinder the extent to which students can feel at home on campus and that these very obstacles contribute to creating an exclusionary space. In light of this, the research exposed the means with which alternative discourses can enhance students’ sense of belonging in their campus environment.
Mini Dissertation (MA (Research Psychology))--University of Pretoria, 2020.