August 10, 2022

Rector’s eNews – 10 August 2022

/ Rector's eNews

Yesterday the Michaelhouse Community learned of the loss of one of the great icons of our school, Father Fred Pitout.

Fred (Baines, 1965) was by many accounts an unlikely candidate to become a man of the cloth during his school days, an anecdote belied by the immense spiritual impact he was to have on the lives of thousands of Michaelhouse boys, staff and community members during his time as the School Chaplain in the late 80s and early 90s, as the Old Boys’ Club Secretary and Community Partnerships Manager until recently, and at so many times before, during and since.

Fred is remembered by everyone as a man of humour, energy, principle, wisdom, humility, and tremendous faith. A true Son and Man of Michaelhouse, Fred’s impact on the life and history of our school can never be understated.

Michaelhouse is bonded together in prayer and good wishes for Anne, their son Simon (Baines, 1988), daughter Natalie, and grandchildren. We each share some of their loss.

The Memorial Service for Fred Pitout has been set for 11am on Saturday, 13 August, in the Michaelhouse Chapel. The intention is to stream the service and for a number of Old Boy Branches to arrange local venues where they can gather and watch together if they wish. Further details, regarding the live link and venues will be announced in due course through Murray Witherspoon at the Old Boys’ Club.

We celebrated our South African National Women’s Day at Michaelhouse yesterday and, on Monday at our assembly, our Senior Prefect, Andrew Davis and Second Prefect, Lucky Mabuza, spoke thoughtfully about the importance of the day which draws attention to the endeavour of women in every sphere of society as well as to the challenges still faced by women throughout the world. In particular, there was straightforward reference to abuse, physical, sexual and otherwise, of women and the fact that the narrative in South Africa needs to change markedly. With the greater degree of independence that adolescents now have, there needs to be greater understanding of and respect for human dignity. This is not an easy topic for discussion between boys, but it is, nevertheless, extremely important that it is addressed and the approach of the two most senior leaders will have made an impact on other boys in the audience.

Though Andrew and Lucky did not specifically mention the notion of consent, the standard teaching amongst the International Boys’ School Coalition (IBSC) which spans schools from the United States, Australia, Canada and South Africa is that consent should be taught in schools and at home using the following criteria:
1. It is freely given, indicating that there was no intimidation involved and that a person agreed to the particular activity of their own free will.
2. It is reversible, meaning that a person may agree to certain conduct and then realise that they no longer want to proceed. Their decision to stop must be respected!
3. It is informed, meaning that the person knows exactly what is happening before, during and after the interaction. If a person is, for example, drunk then they cannot know what is happening and this means that they have not given consent.
4. It is enthusiastic, meaning that there is no uncertainty or hesitation and that “yes” means “yes” and “no” means “no”.
5. It is specific, meaning that boundaries are clear as to what may or may not be engaged in. If in doubt, questions should be asked.

For the sake of easily remembering these, the acronym FRIES is one which we have mentioned in a public forum at our assembly in the last year and we will do so again. I have referred to this here as it is a topic which parents might take up in discussion with their sons at some stage in the future in order to prevent a statistic in South Africa from mounting further and, more importantly, to demonstrate the respect which is due to others.

The boys of Michaelhouse, headed by Andrew Davis and Lucky Mabuza and with the help of their parents have raised over R16 000 so far for GVI Africa, an organisation which assists young women. They are pleased with the fact that they have been able to do something positive and practical to enhance the lives of young women and thank you for your contributions to the cause for which they have raised the money.

Read the full Rector’s eNews here

Copyright © 2024 Michaelhouse. All rights reserved.