Views from campus


Views from campus

The broader UCT community – including students, administrative staff, academic staff and parents – have voiced their views and opinions about the ongoing student protests on our campuses. These are the unedited questions that they are asking and messages that they would like to have heard.

UCT staff and students in favour of a peaceful reopening of campus on 17 October have started a petition.

See the petition...
Dear Dr Price

We are heartened by your announcement in the VC Desk of 6 October 2016 that the University is committed to a process of mediation which we hope will lead to restorative justice.

Read the full statement...
Professor Anwar Mall urges the UCT community to reopen the university

DVC Prof Anwar Mall

Professor Anwar Mall, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Transformation and Student Affairs, highlights the risks of a continued UCT shutdown for the university and for South Africa and urges all stakeholders to work together to reopen the university on Monday, 3 October.

UCT Chair of Council calls for reopening of academic programme on 3 October 2016

UCT Chair of Council

Mr Sipho Pityana, chairman of UCT’s Council, urges students to allow the academic year to resume at UCT by working together with the university to achieve the objectives that we are all concerned about.

Dear colleagues, friends and students

The UCT website now declares that classes will resume tomorrow, 3 October. A VC Desk has also just been released.

My own assessment based on all the data available to me, including that from the streaming of the negotiations (I viewed it all), is that this is the correct decision.

Some of you will disagree with me, and I welcome this. A university relies on there being a spectrum of views.

Tomorrow will be a testing day for the institution. There may be 'security' and there may be 'protest'. I sincerely hope that the values in which we all trust will prevail: respect of every single inhabitant of UCT, love of the Academy, determination to guard against violence and a vision for a better South Africa.

I encourage all academic staff, PASS, postgraduate students, and undergraduate students to return to campus tomorrow. My call is based upon a conviction that the evolution of the New UCT relies on all members of the UCT community to be on site so that they can contribute to the advancement of the academic project.

The academic project at UCT includes a commitment to excellence in all aspects of our professional responsibility and mission, a determined alignment with a programme which desires a socially just South Africa, and quite blatantly, a love of UCT. If any one of these three ingredients is missing, then we will fail.

Please return to campus. Seek opportunities to reduce tension, reject violence and contribute to the new identity of the New UCT.

The UCT Project cannot advance unless all the inhabitants of UCT are welcomed to UCT, and are present on campus.

Therefore, you need to return to campus tomorrow.

There will be threats of violence: such threats are unacceptable in any form.

I commit the Department of Physics to continue to evolve in ways which support the academic and social project at UCT.

Please return to campus tomorrow. If you are absent, then you cannot contribute to the New UCT.

Andy Buffler
HoD: UCT Physics
Good on Max for spelling out the reality. While sympathetic with many of the student demands/issues and the HE sector’s drastic financial challenges and needs, I completely support campus protection for the majority of staff and students who want to finish their year and keeping campus open to enable this to happen.

(UCT employee, master’s student and parent of an undergraduate student)
Dear Dr Max Price

I believe that there are many students who want campus to resume on Monday the 3rd. I urge you to make a referendum or put up a poll where we as students vote for or not the resumption of lectures.

I am sure many of us want to return to class and continue with dialogue or engagement whilst fulfilling our purpose of the reason we are here. I also believe that closing campus is not an ideal solution no matter the circumstances, and am sure many students share my sentiment.
I have been looking at the all the demands and all the responses that have been given out. I feel like it is time that the Vice Chancellor paid attention to what is more important and he stopped burdening himself with something he has no control over.

I am a BLACK student and all that I came here for is education and a better future. University of Cape Town is one of the universities that provide me and all the other students with free transport, 3 meals a day, a place to sleep, Wifi, a 24-hour library with resources that I can use with no limits. The list goes on.

I would then be selfish to demand free education and use the racism card to play the victim. I believe that education should be given at a reasonable price and that fees should be constant but I do not believe that fees should be free. University is such a huge and money consuming place to run, let alone maintain.

The people that make this university a better place are people that have been qualified to do so and on top of that they are people who have families to take care of. These are people like the Jammie drivers, cleaners, lecturers, securities and the list goes on. All these people plus the resources that students use for learning purposes has got to be PAID for.

I believe that all that I have counted is worth millions and this money comes from school fees, now if i no longer pay school fees, how will it be possible to pay for all these things?

We are here to study so that we can be qualified, employed and earn money. When we start working, we will do so for earnings in return, I believe that we wouldn't want someone marching to our working place demanding that we provide services to them for free simply because they don’t have money. But this is the exact same thing that students are doing now.

The one thing that has started this chaos is the 8% increase. Now I think that what we fail to see here is WHO increased the fees and WHY. People who are in power spend the state’s money like it’s Christmas and when they realize that there is an economic crisis, they want to reap off students by increasing fees.

This is not the universities battle to fight. It is that of the government because they are the one who have created this mess. I come from a home where the mother deals with minor issues that children cause and where the father steps in when everything and everyone in the house is out of control. Why is it that the president "father of the nation" is not saying or doing anything about this? IS IT STILL RACISM playing a role in that case?

Students should be told to wake up and reflect on what life is before putting those thoughts into action. We only live once, for that case I don’t see why we should be selfish to fellow students who want to study.

I am confused as to whether people are at university to practice political skills or to gain knowledge. I am black, raised by a single parent. I live far from Cape Town, I do not have anything fancy or any money. I know what poverty feels like. I am therefore not saying this simply because I am rich or spoilt. I am saying this because I have a family that I want to make proud, that I want to take out of misery and poverty. How then do I do that when I have been robbed off that opportunity?

I am against an increase in fees but that does not mean they must be free. There are many places that deserve a protest but universities are not one of them. If these students are listened to then surely our voices can be heard too?

At the end of the day, the consequences are faced by everyone, not just a few. Children fight to get their point across and to communicate. Adults sit down, talk about it and never disturb the process of moving towards a better future. It’s time we all decided where we stand. And as long as you give a child something they want simply because they are embarrassing you in front of people, that child will never know what is right or wrong and they will always be greedy for more. Thank you. I hope you get my point.
What happens to international students?

I am a concerned international student and I am writing this email with regards to the protests taking place. Firstly I would like to express that I acknowledge the need for freedom of expression, and I also understand the angle from which people who are protesting are coming. I also acknowledge the effort UCT is putting into solving the situation and I appreciate it. But a group of us international students have other concerns which we feel are not being addressed:
  1. The suspension/delay of classes or possibility of shutdown will lead to extra costs that we have not planned for, eg transport back to our home countries, especially flying. We cannot afford to go back and forth based on the possible closing and reopening of campus if people are sent home. Also, staying in Cape Town for longer means more rent and living expenses, especially to those who live off campus. The majority of us can’t even access Wi-Fi and labs, hence we are in the dark in terms of what’s going on.
  2. The permit issue: a number of international students couldn’t register this year because of permit issues. I don’t think people understand the work, effort and money that goes into getting a study permit. So if campus shuts down, will we all be allowed to register next year without permits? This would involve the ministry of home affairs. UCT/IAPO/SRC telling us it’s not within their power is not a good enough explanation. We need solutions!
  3. Extended degrees: if campus is shut down then everyone’s degree is extended, hence potential graduates can’t work and thus UCT has to accommodate more people for the following years ... thus bringing back the accommodation issue once again. This would mean more protests and more delays while parents are breaking their backs to pay the additional international fees. Or will these fees be cancelled for next year?
  4. Safety: some of us international students don’t feel safe anymore. Firstly we are all in a foreign country and thus feel pressured to take sides – even if we don’t agree with some of the issues. Although there haven’t been any police issues, there is a tension amongst students, especially for those who don’t agree with the protests. I feel there aren’t as many people involved this time around and the majority of us want to go back to school so we at least finish the academic year. However, we need to do so in a safe manner. The longer the delay, the harder it will be.
I really want to know what considerations have been made for us international students. Should a poll be held to find out how many people want to go back to school? I really didn’t know who to direct this email to, so I have sent it to as many departments as I can, hoping that someone might carry on these issues to higher authorities. Please consider us in your decision-making process; at this point we feel neglected in this process.

Thank you.
I've been party to informal group discussions this past week (in passing), and my views were attacked by some students. I finally understood why so many students just keep their opinions to themselves.

I do however feel an anonymous platform for the greater student body to give their views on the matter will be more fruitful. The cloak of anonymity will give students the confidence they may not otherwise have. Surely if we stand together, we will outnumber those who wish to disrupt the completion of the academic project this year?

I agree that free education is a crucial issue in this country. But it is something that needs to be addressed by government.

I have 3 sponsors to cover my fees this year. It came after dozens of emails to various organisations, who mostly rejected my applications. Both in undergrad and this year. So i feel the pain of the protesters, I would not be able to study otherwise. I support the cause.

But it is unreasonable and unrealistic to attack and deface the very institutions that are needed to help our society progress. Universities have to pay their bills to keep operating, and to retain their staff. And UCT in particular, to maintain its reputation.

A call for insourcing, and now an increase in salary, as well as a call for free education is diabolical. How do you keep an institution open when you are pressured to receive less but also pressured to spend more? It is not sustainable.

The real protest should be taken to the SA government. Because free (or much cheaper) tertiary education will only be possible when we hold our government accountable for their poor policies, unnecessary spending and poor corporate governance of leadership and their decisions. Once these core issues are addressed, affordable education can become a by-product of good governance. Because there will be more public funds available to divert to this cause. But as it stands, nothing will change. And the more we have to spend on fixing damaged property, the less there will be available to fund needy students.

I just don't know where this protest is headed anymore.... I hope Dr Price finds a way to resume campus operations on Monday without the protesters' interfering again.

Good luck to all involved with this process!
Will Dr Price consider a student poll to see how many of us are keen to finish the academic project this year? Like the Wits VC is doing.  I'm sure we are in the majority.

And I really just want to finish my post grad exams and put UCT behind me....

Thank you
Dear VC

I have consulted with many staff within the School of Economics and there is unanimous support amongst us that the university should re-open on Monday 3rd October.

We are also committed to actively creating opportunities for meaningful and constructive engagement with students to resolve the challenges facing this institution.
Dear Sir/Madam

I am a parent of a UCT 3rd year student. I am very concerned and disturbed about the incidents at UCT as well as at various universities in South Africa over the past two weeks as part of the Fees Must Fall movement.

I totally condemn the students’ actions, such as destroying valuable properties and disrupting classes. I am very worried about the future of young students in this country.

I heard today on the radio that Wits is proceeding with a vote by students and staff to find how many of them support these strikes and how many support continuing with academic activities. Can UCT also follow some kind of opinion poll by students and staff (may include parents also) whether to continue with closing of academic activities for the rest of the year or to reopen on Monday to continue with classes and exams in this academic year?

I really hope and pray that a solution to this will be found soon and academic activities will resume without students losing six months to one year of their studies.

Yours sincerely
Mrs M Paul
I am a fourth-year student at UCT currently completing my honours. I am signed with KPMG next year, on the basis that I complete my honours.

How do the students that want campus to open on Monday, and are averse to the shutdown, show our support?

I was thinking of creating an online survey that people sign in order to show their support for the continuation of campus?

Or should we try and raise money in order to hire private security on campus?

Please tell us what we can do? At this point in time, the campus shut down has gone beyond any normal levels of acceptability.
I truly appreciate all the efforts being made to reopen UCT on Monday 3 October. I simply wish to note that most students are afraid to discuss their desire to go back to class on social media because they are afraid of the stigmatisation and labelling that comes with that. Nonetheless, their voices have to be heard because their interests are on the line. Would it be possible to set up a referendum on Vula similar to the one currently being conducted at Wits? Despite the criticisms of this mechanism, I still think it is an effective way to enable those who have been silenced to express their views.

I also kindly ask the university to encourage those students who wish to learn to come to class in numbers on Monday – even if it means walking to campus when Jammie routes are blocked, parking their cars off-campus and walking up to lecture venues. My feeling is that a lot of students have had the tendency to stay at home during the protests whilst waiting for the university to post notices on whether campus is open. They do not see the act of coming to campus as a form of protest against the shutdown. I think it must be made clear that it is important for those who want to study to come to campus to indicate their commitment to reopen the institution.

The Fees Must Fall protesters clearly make a concerted effort to organise and mobilise protesters for their cause. I think the university should do the same and not merely hope that students will show up on Monday. We must also realise that for classes to resume, it might take a firmer stand from those who wish to learn.