8 November 2015
Dear colleagues and students
This is a further update to the University community concerning the exams that continue this coming week, and the ongoing engagements that we are having with certain student groupings and workers.
Exams are going ahead.
We have at all times maintained an open door to students and staff through proper channels of communication, and we have spent many long hours in engagements this week. We will continue to do so, in good faith. But we will not allow those engagements to take place under the threat of unlawful disruptions and violation of the rights of other students. Threats of this kind are made in bad faith, and are illegitimate and unacceptable within the democratic culture of the University and of the country as a whole. Unfortunately, we cannot now exclude the possibility that some students or workers may attempt to disrupt exams next week.
We have put together a detailed plan to secure the exams and to deal with any possible disruptions to campus or to exams. Students and workers who attempt to disrupt exams will be identified. Appropriate, fair and speedy disciplinary processes will follow, which may lead to expulsion of students and dismissal of workers. A student who is expelled will not be back next year, and a worker who is dismissed will not be insourced. We hope very much that this does not happen. Some students have objected to the fact that the University has mentioned the possibility of expulsion as a consequence of actions of this kind. In all cases due process will be followed. But the fact of the matter is that there are around 17,000 students who have elected to write exams now rather than early next year. For many of them, these exams will be decisive in their degrees. The University has a clear duty to do everything possible to give them this opportunity and cannot reasonably be expected to tolerate unlawful violations of rights on its campus.
The libraries have been open since 2pm today (Sunday) and the exams will continue as scheduled.
The Jammie Shuttle and the libraries will operate as usual as from Monday, 9 November 2015.
Ongoing engagement with student groups
During the course of this week the University has had a range of lengthy engagements with a group of students organised as the Rhodes Must Fall and Fees Must Fall formations. The group has presented a detailed list of demands and proposals, and the university executive has engaged extensively with them over many hours, on one occasion throughout the night. We believe that significant progress has been made in identifying common ground, despite some sharp differences, and we believe that we have reached broad consensus on the essence of a compact that would bind stakeholders going forward.
A number of different stakeholder groups, equally important to the University community, have expressed concern that a final agreement may be reached with these student formations without engaging with them or soliciting their views. The University's approach is that we will engage as fully as possible with the student groupings who have made proposals or demands, but of course we accept that any formal compact must be concluded with the appropriate prior involvement or engagement with the SRC, other student bodies/formations, staff, unions, Senate and Council.
We remain committed to ongoing engagement in good faith through all established channels of communication with staff and students.
Please watch the UCT homepage for further updates.
Dr Max Price