Dear colleagues and students
The University of Cape Town (UCT) was open today, 25 October 2017. Many classes, tests, academic and PASS departments continued their work. It is estimated that three quarters of scheduled classes and academic activities were successfully concluded. The university is concerned, however, that in some cases lower attendance numbers in classes were reported.
Since early this morning, a group of protesters disrupted several classes, laboratories and lecture theatres. Numerous fire alarms were activated, which caused forced evacuations. Fire extinguishers were removed from buildings and set off and several service operations were interrupted. The library was closed for a short time to avoid disruption. In one instance, a final year three-hour exam was disrupted in the last ten minutes of the session. We were extremely fortunate that invigilators were able to collect all the exam papers.
The executive have expressed their deep concern about these disruptions and the effect that they are having on students, staff and our ability to conclude the academic year.
This morning the executive made a decision to deploy private security on campus in order to monitor and protect some high-risk buildings. In light of the disruptions today, Campus Protection Services (CPS) will increase their deployment at test and exam venues and the same private security company may be used to assist the CPS officers where necessary.
The executive has responded in a written communication to the six demands given to them by the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) president yesterday. (Read the communication...) The executive have expressed grave concern that despite their ongoing engagement with the SRC, and their commitment to respond to these demands, the SRC opted to proceed with rolling disruptions over the past two days.
There is additional concern that a growing number of protesters are not UCT students. CPS is assessing this risk and considering how to deal with it.
The executive have met with the Senior Leadership Group, the college of residence wardens, and will have a meeting with senior PASS staff and other constituencies tomorrow, including a meeting with Senate. The key considerations for discussion are how to minimise the impact of the disruptions on staff and students, and to discuss the various options that are available to ensure completion of the academic year over the remaining 12 days of term and the exams. There is full commitment to successfully finishing the academic year and sticking to the exams schedule as published.
Investigations into incidents of criminality during the protest disruptions are being concluded. In cases where individuals are identified in association with criminal behaviour, charges will be instituted.
Communication and Marketing Department
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In a statement to UCT students, Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price said:
“I wish no student to be ignorant about what constitutes unlawful protest behaviour.
Disruption of classes, blocking of entrances or exits, interfering with traffic flow, putting up barricades that prevent people from conducting normal business or attending classes, and any form of intimidation – whether physical or verbal – is unlawful.”