Like all Afrikaner students on this campus, set amid the bucolic beauty of South Africa's winemaking district, John Van Breda has only known a government run by Afrikaners for the benefit of Afrikaners.
It was for them, born after the National Party came to power in 1948, that the policy of apartheid was instituted. Racial separation was meant to create a life as secure, tranquil -- and white -- as life on campus here.
But rather than feeling ensconced in a cocoon of privilege and security, Von Breda and a number of his classmates perceive themselves in a corner because of apartheid. For the first time, they are talking matter-of-factly about the inevitability of black-majority rule.
"As students we feel that if there is no structural change, it's endangering our future because the majority of the people don't want a divison of this country," said Van Breda, a graduate student in philosophy. "Our premise must be a unitary state. If not, there is no way we are going to achieve a peaceful future here," he said.
To be sure, his views are shared by only a minority of Afrikaner students. But this minority is becoming more outspoken and it is the cutting edge of a widespread questioning and political debate among Afrikaner students that is a relatively new experience for them.
"We are living in a rethinking stage," said 23-year-old Nelus Niemandt, president of the Student Council of Pretoria University.
This is due partly to the urbanization of the formerly mainly rural Afrikaner society, according to law student Kobus Bekker. "an English-speaking child can say 'why?' to his dad. But in the general Afrikaner house, that is an uncommon question -- to question your father's decision in anything. But now it's becoming more free, more liberal," said Bekker, who heads the conservative student organization, Afrikaanse Studentebond at a Johannesburg university.
Afrikaner students today also do not remember the hardships of the 1940s when most of their people were poor and out of power.They are more affluent, more middle-class, more educated than their parents were at their age. In addition, they have been influenced by a series of events in the last four years including: the unprecedented rioting of black communities in 1976, South Africa's fateful entry into Angola's civil war, the Information Department scandal that exposed venality and corruption within the Afrikaner leadership and most recently, the election of Marxist guerrilla leader Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.
Stellenbosch philosophy professor Andre Du Toit believes another major factor in the students' questioning of the political system is self-interest.
"If you are a young student and you think of your future in 20 to 25 years from now when you are supposed to be at the peak of your professional career, very few are under the illusion that South Africa will not be different from what it is now," Du Toit explained.
"In my generation it was still possible to fall for the utopian ideal of apartheid, still possible to theoretically say, well, if the plan of separate states were fully developed, it would solve our problem. But we now have fully independent black states -- now we have the utopian dream a reality and very clearly it is not solving our problems," Du Toit said.
As a result, some Afrikaner students feel more querulous than grateful toward the government. Prime Minister Pieter W. Botha discovered this on a recent visit to Stellenbosch University where six of his predecessors took their degrees.
Botha was booed and hissed when he described the opposition party that favors negotiating with blacks as "leftish" and imprisoned black nationalist leader Nelson Mandela as an "arch-Marxist" dedicted to overthrowing the government.
"Why don't you tell us that Mandela only turned to violence after peaceful appeals to the government failed?" asked Chris Heymanns, a political science student who comes from a traditional Afrikaans family.
"When are you going to fire Dr. (Andries) Treurnicht?" queried Kobus Pienaar, son of a former Afikaner ambassador to France, referring to the most conservative of Botha's Cabinet ministers.
Botha was visibly angered by the public challenge and fumed that the students should stick to studying and leave the governing to him. "The fact that there were a couple of Afrikaner students who had the courage to stand up and do that -- it could not have happened four to five years ago," said Van Breda.
A number of these students believe that the government will eventually have to negotiate with recognized black leaders and that their lives will not be as easy as the ones their parents now enjoy.
"Black-majority rule doesn't frighten me, but I accept it with some reservations. It will be something completely new and it will undoubtedly mean a change in my life style, said Tjaart Theron, a postgraduate theological student.
"There might be a drop in my living standards," said Theuns Eloff, a seminary student at Potchefstroom University. "And I think I am going to have to fight again for Afrikaans, for my culture, as the French do in Canada. It's not an important factor now because there are laws that protect my ethnicity, but when they go, I will have to fight for it again," he said.
Most Afrikaner students are not so sanguine about the prospect of whites playing a minority role, and ethnicity is still a decisive factor in any political solution for them. These students are sure of only two things -- that both old-style apartheid and a system of one-man-one-vote are out.
"Between these two goals we must find a solution," said Niemandt, whose views are more representative of the majority of Afrikaner university students.
"I think the concept of separate development is workable, it's still sellable, but the government must 'deliver the goods,' he said. For Niemandt, the "goods" are more land and resources for the 10 black states Pretoria hopes will eventually be self-governing bodies, and a dismantling of discrimination in the social and economic spheres. These are Botha's policies at the moment.
To accomplish this, "many of the privileges whites enjoyed up to now will have to be sacrificed for more harmonious race relations and even for practicl reasons," said his classmate, Hermann Krull.
All the students interviewed voiced apprehension about a growing rightwing sentiment among a minority of students whose solution is, as one student put it, "Shoot it out now rather than later." Bekker said he fears polarizaion among Afrikaner students as this right-wing faction increases.
Whatever their views, almost all the Afrikaner students felt both an optimism and a sense of urgency about tackling the country's problems.
"The feeling among students is, 'Let's sort out this political mess faster,' "said Niemandt.
All of them also said they understand why black students refuse even to speak with them.
A generation ago that might not have caused much concern to Afrikaner students. Today, however, Niemandt said, "I'm very worried about that."