One controversial student leader says yes.

BARBARA R. THOMPSONBarbara R. Thompson is a free-lance writer from Brevard, North Carolina. She is a coauthor with F. Kefa Sempangi of A Distant Grief (Regal, 1979).

In the midst of increasing polarization and escalating tensions, a new generation of South African student leaders is grappling with poignant and perplexing questions that threaten to plunge South Africa into civil war.

Among these student leaders is Chris Swart, a graduate of the University of Capetown and the former president of a unique South African student organization: the Student Union for Christian Action (SUCA). Swart is a Rhodes scholar, currently studying political science at Magdalen College, Oxford, England.

The Student Union for Christian Action is a bold South African experiment in nonracial and cross-cultural relationships. Begun in 1979 to address concerns expressed by Christian students at the South African Christian Leadership Assembly (SACLA), today the union—purely a student-run movement—includes more than 400 black and Afrikaans-and English-speaking white student leaders from almost every campus in South Africa. Although a newcomer compared to the established Students YMCA and the Students Christian Association, it is the only student organization to cut across racial and cultural barriers, and is growing in spite of harassment by the South African government. With encouragement from evangelical leaders such as evangelist Michael Cassidy, members of SUCA have committed themselves to communicating a simple truth: blacks and whites can live and work together in peace.

Mr. Swart speaks here in his personal capacity; his views do not necessarily represent all SUCA members.

What prompted student leaders to ...

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