Wits SRC’s Still Demanding Accommodation & Historical Debt Write-Off

wits students
Students stage a sit-in at the University of Witwatersrand on 5 February 2019. Picture: Thando Kubheka/EWN

The student representative council (SRC) at the University of the Witwatersrand says it will continue protesting until their demands are met. However, the university’s vice-principal Professor Andrew Crouch says the institution does not have enough money to meet their demands.

The SRC members protested on Tuesday, embarking on a hunger strike. They want the university to provide accommodation and to allow registration for students who had historical debt. They say those students who owe R100 000 or less should be allowed by the university to register for the 2019 academic year.

However, Crouch said: “That would put the operations of the university at risk, because operationally we won’t be able to deliver on a quality academic programme.”

The SRC also says students who have been granted space by the institution should be allowed to register, that returning students should be assisted with accommodation and that upfront fees should be scrapped for students who come from households that have an income of less than R600 000.

But Crouch maintained that all this was impossible.

“The context here is that the university is doing its utmost to assist students. Unfortunately, the reality is that we are working within limitations of our budget. We cannot accede to a request that would leave the university at financial risk,” said Crouch.

Students have also demanded the removal of private security guards at the institution after a female student was injured when a scuffle broke out at the institution on Tuesday.

Wits University added it was prioritising the issues raised by students on accommodation and student debt.

Meanwhile, the University of Cape Town has condemned an incident in which its vice-chancellor was threatened.

Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng on Tuesday tweeted about her experience on campus.

UCT’s Elijah Moholola says the incident has been reported and an investigation has been launched.

“The University of Cape Town notes, with deep concern, the incident involving the vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng. UCT condemns this incident as we would any safety and security incident involving staff or students on our campuses.”