The names, twelve in total, were announced in an email to the campus residents about the new underground containers. These waste bins will be put into use from February and can only be opened with a 'droplet' to prevent illegal dumping. Most containers are named after scientists such as Newton, Edison and Einstein, but Musk and Mandela were also featured on the list.
‘In response to the email, some students reported the new names’, says Sterre Mkatini, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion officer at the UT. The students ‘took offense’ to the fact that only men were mentioned. ‘But more importantly, they wondered why you would name a bin after Newton or Mandela. The students thought that was strange. I laughed about it myself at first. But to name a waste container after Nelson Mandela... You would rather expect that to happen with a bridge or something like that.’
Mkatini contacted housing corporation De Veste, responsible for the waste containers and the new names, to pass on the students’ complaint. ‘Take a look at it, I asked them. What probably happened is an overzealous marketing team came up with the names without thinking about it further.’ After the report, the housing corporation decided to change the names into numbers, says the diversity employee. ‘They handled it very well as far as I’m concerned.’
According to Richard Ditzel of De Veste, the names have been changed ‘to prevent unpleasant feelings in the future.’ ‘We wanted to name the containers, similar to street names. In retrospect, that was a bad idea. That is why we decided to simply number the containers. The intention was good, the execution a bit less