Dear students and colleagues
1. Teaching and learning continues but certain face-to-face lectures remain suspended
Following extensive classroom disruptions during the past week, the UCT executive is still not satisfied that it can guarantee a peaceful environment in which classroom learning can take place and has therefore extended the suspension of face-to-face lectures on main, middle, lower and Hiddingh campuses on Monday (30 October 2017) and Tuesday (31 October 2017).
Course conveners will do their best to ensure that all learning material is nevertheless delivered through other means, including blended and online learning. Course conveners will also communicate if and how assessments and tests will be conducted, and whether practicals and tutorials will proceed as normal or in varied formats. Some teaching may continue off campus.
Please note that the university remains open, with the majority of operations continuing. The libraries are open and the Jammie shuttle service is operational.
UCT operations (PASS and academic staff) will remain open. However, line managers will make operational decisions taking into account safety issues and exposure to significant stress arising out of location-specific protest activity. They may redirect staff to work from other venues or from home.
The executive continues to engage with the SRC in an attempt to reach agreement to resume all operations at UCT.
Regardless of how long classes are shifted to other modes of teaching and learning, the executive is determined that the exams in November will take place as planned and that it can provide the necessary security required, if still needed.
2. Meeting of Senate on Thursday, 26 October 2017
An emergency meeting of the Senate was held on the Thursday afternoon to discuss the prevailing circumstances on campus and to consider possible contingency measures to secure the remainder of the 2017 academic year and the upcoming examination period.
The meeting considered the disruptions to campus activities and heard representations from the SRC members on Senate about the issues affecting the student body which had precipitated the disruptions. These representations included a call for the university to announce a 0% fee increase for 2018, the release of the Heher Report on the feasibility of free higher education in South Africa, and a number of issues relating specifically to the university.
The meeting engaged with these and a number of other issues over the course of two-and-a-half hours, and offered overwhelming support for the following two courses of action to be explored:
Firstly, that a University Assembly should be called for next week where all members of the university community would be given an opportunity to give voice to their view on the possibility of free higher education and the form that this might take. This would be done with a view to establishing UCT’s position, or variety of positions, on the matter which could guide future engagements with national government.
Secondly, it was noted that in the UCT context blended learning has many drawbacks as an alternative to face-to-face teaching and pending the executive’s engagement with the SRC, that faculties and departments nevertheless be asked to implement alternative modes of delivering the teaching material to complete the academic year – on the understanding that all examinations would proceed as scheduled and that the necessary security measures would be put in place to secure these.
3. Application for the granting of a court interdict
On Thursday, 26 October 2017, UCT applied to the High Court to grant an urgent interdict preventing disruption of UCT’s operations. The judge postponed the hearing to Monday, 30 October 2017 to allow for the filing of affidavits.
UCT is not seeking to interdict students for protest action. It is seeking to interdict anyone who perpetrates unlawful protest action.
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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.”