The reopening of UCT's academic programme from 3 October was a “partial success” with most classes starting and taking place, but many still being disrupted, said Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price.
Speaking at a press briefing at lunchtime on 4 October 2016, Price explained that classes were running, there were no barricades blocking access and Jammie Shuttle buses were running, which meant that students from remote residences could get onto campus.
“I think we've made excellent progress today and hopefully again tomorrow we will be able to function fully,” said the VC.
Price explained that the university was trying to scale up the security level very gradually, and did not want to bring on “heavy” security, which might provoke violence.
“We are responding to the level of disruption that the protest groups are demonstrating and, in our view, that is diminishing,” he said.
The VC also spoke about the negotiations that took place with student groups over the weekend.
While they had found agreement on most of the “substantive issues”, by Sunday evening no final agreement could be reached. They had agreed on a time frame for an institutional reconciliation commission's scope and for panellists to be refined and agreed upon – a process which would have started this week. The sticking point, Price said, was that no agreement could be reached that the campus should be opened and classes should continue in parallel with the establishment of that process.
“Not completing the academic year is disastrous for everyone: disastrous for higher education, it's disastrous for this year's school-leavers who want to come into university, and it's disastrous for the many students we have – the thousands, I would say the overwhelming majority, who wish to complete their degrees and wish to progress to the next year of study, and for whom this would be an extra year of expenses if they could not finish their studies,” the VC added.
He also gave details about eight students who had been arrested on campus on Monday and Tuesday.
“In the course of managing the protests, eight students have been arrested – six yesterday for disrupting a class and intimidating people, two today for repeatedly re-establishing barricades, for intimidation, and one of them happens to be a student who is interdicted from being on campus, so he is also arrested for being in contravention of a court order,” he said.
“Those charges, these are all alleged, and those charges are still being formulated by the police, and for any further details on that you would have to ask the police. The police conducted the arrests, not us.”
The university has also initiated internal disciplinary action against those students.
Story Yusuf Omar. Photo Michael Hammond.
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Dr Max Price outlines the current situation on campus.
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