Classes at the University of the Witwatersrand are to resume on Monday‚ the university’s senior executive team said in a statement on Sunday. This follows weeks of violent protests by students demanding free education which saw classes being disrupted and cancelled. The protests saw a number of students‚ including student leader Busisiwe Seabe‚ arrested. No serious injuries were reported.
The Council of the University of the Witwatersrand agreed that the University will reopen on Monday‚ 10 October 2016‚ to ensure the continuation of the learning‚ teaching‚ research and administrative activities of the University‚ and the successful completion of each individual student’s academic year‚” it said.
It said this was for the benefit of all students – undergraduate and postgraduate‚ local and international‚ full-time and part-time and all staff – academic‚ professional‚ administrative and international.
“We are committed to completing the 2016 academic programme and to ensuring that examinations are written. Senate has approved a revised calendar for 2016‚ as well as developed contingency plans to ensure that examinations are written‚” the executive added.
It said it was clear that everyone in the university community had the same goal – to work as a community to realise the goal of free‚ quality higher education.
“We firmly believe that this can be done at the same time as finishing the academic year. No student should see a year’s worth of work come to naught‚ along with the financial sacrifices that they‚ and their families have had to make.
“We believe that this campaign has been strengthened by a collective commitment from the entire University community to seek meaningful and speedy ways to make university education accessible‚ but it is also clear that the majority of the University community and society at large desperately want to save the academic programme of the University. Our approach is to do both.
“We call on all students‚ parents‚ staff and stakeholders to join us in this approach‚ to ensure that everyone has a chance to write‚ to pass‚ to create space for the next year of university intakes while at the same time giving equal priority to the broader political issues of funding and transformation‚” the Wits executive said.
It added however that while the university would reopen‚ it was obliged to put in place certain conditions.
These include that while students will be allowed to protest‚ they will only be able to do so in specific areas and large groups of people engaged in protest action will not be allowed to gather outside the designated areas.
The university said it was also completely opposed to the intimidation of staff or students or the disruption of academic activities.
“As such‚ any person/s intimidating students to leave a classroom or building‚ or disrupting any University activity‚ may be suspended‚” it warned. Violent protests would also not be brooked. “As such‚ anyone carrying rocks‚ stones‚ weapons or any other items that can be used to destroy property or inflict harm‚ will immediately be disarmed‚ and may be suspended. Any person using items to deliberately conceal their identity‚ may be suspended.”
Rigorous control of access to the university‚ including comprehensive and sporadic checks of all vehicles‚ including buses‚ would be implemented‚ it said‚ adding that all staff and students would be required to carry their access cards with them‚ as was the norm.
“All persons arrested by the police may immediately be suspended.
“All suspensions will immediately be processed for finalisation through disciplinary hearings‚” the executive added.[Source: Times Live]