Earlier this week, students voiced their frustration by protesting on university campuses around the country (South Africa), starting off in KwaZulu-Natal with four different institutions, and then followed in Gauteng by Wits University.
The protests have resulted in University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) suspending academic activity indefinitely until further notice, while the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the University of Witwatersrand have embarked on a hunger strike until their demands are met by the institution.
While it’s easy to lump these demands into the same category of #FeesMustFall, these students are asking for more than not having to pay tuition for their studies.
The SRCs of both Universities have released separate memorandums to their respective institution’s management for review by the board.
Here’s what they say.
The UKZN SRC demands are:
- UKZN to compensate students who lose belongings are stolen during break-ins at residences.
- The curriculum to be transformed to include getting a driver’s license.
- UKZN to find another building to accommodate students who are without student residence.
- Upgrade infrastructure to accommodate disabled students.
- A 50 percent pay increase for student tutors and mentors.
- Students who applied for NSFAS funding to be given monthly meal allowances by UKZN until their NSFAS applications are processed.
- Those studying a Bachelor of Education to be given a teaching practice allowance to be able to travel to schools where they are doing practical.
- UKZN to intervene on high cafeteria food prices.
- Printing prices to drop from 48 cents a page to 10 cents a page.
The Wits SRC demands are:
- All students who have been granted a space at the University must be able to register.
- Returning students must be assisted in their accommodation by Wits.
- University management must restructure residence management systems and operations with the guidance of All Res Council (ARC) and House Committees. Students should have a weigh in on all decision-making.
- The opening of the residential buildings identified by South Point in the meeting between South Point, Wits management and the Wits SRC for the housing of students at the University’s expense.
- The re-opening of Witwaters, Essellen and Parktown Village for accommodation.
- No up-front fees should be acceptable to students with a household income of less than R600 000. This would be for both residential and academic purposes.
- All students must be able to register and move into Wits residence if granted a space despite historical debt.
- No closing date for Hardship Fund. The SRC commits to fundraising, the University should follow suit.
- If private accommodation refuses to scrap upfront payment then the University must revoke its accreditation.
- International students from across the continent and diaspora should be catered to in terms of late registration and accommodation. Their needs and circumstances should never be overlooked.
- The SRC demands an increase in student representation in the following manner:
- SRC demands four voting seats at the council, ARC should also hold a voting seat at the council.
- The SRC demands four additional seats hat the University’s Financial committee, the ARC should also hold a seat in this committee.
- The SRC demands 15 additional voting sets in the senate five of which would be held by the ARC representation.
There has been no response yet to the demands by either University, and no deadlines are set by the SRCs.