A senior lecturer at the University of South Africa (Unisa) has apologised for “embarrassing herself” after lashing out at National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) recipients at the institution on social media.
On Wednesday, Tracey McKay told News24 she regretted her actions and apologised to everyone who had been harmed by her comments on Twitter.
Mckay’s tweets were in response to user Roman Cabanac who had asked how textbook sales could fall if Nsfas gave students R5,000 to spend on books.
She tweeted she wished students were copying the books, saying she was sure the money was being used on “entertainment, wigs, nail polish and other student essentials”.
Mckay continued that “even before this cash payment, the students would buy the books and immediately sell them”.
She further tweeted she worked in academia, and the vast majority of students she had taught were the kind that bought wigs.
Other Twitter users asked Unisa if Mckay’s tweets were acceptable to the institution.
Speaking to News24, McKay said she had not meant to harm anybody with her tweets.
“I have not been suspended yet by the university. I didn’t mean to offend people. I can see that I have done a big mistake. The comments are not appropriate.”
She said she was tweeting in her own capacity and not on behalf of the institution.
“I didn’t mean to bring the institution into disrepute. I can’t take it back rather than to apologise profusely. It was a mistake. I didn’t think at the time and it was done in my own personal capacity.
“I have apologised for embarrassing Unisa. I humbly apologise and it was a mistake. I am embarrassed. I didn’t think at the time. By speaking to you, I am concerned that I won’t make things worse for me.”
McKay, whose tweets are protected, offered her apology on the social media site soon after speaking to News24.
“I am deeply apologetic about my comments regarding book money issued to students of higher education in South Africa. I was in error in what I said and I hope that people can forgive me. I did not mean to create harm and I am embarrassed that I did. Please accept my apologies,” she wrote.
Unisa was not immediately available for comment, however, the institution earlier tweeted it was aware of an academic staff member who made derogatory remarks on Twitter toward Nsfas-funded students.
The university said it strongly rejected and condemned such behaviour.