Wits University will not shut down – SRC

Johannesburg – Students at Wits University should continue with their studies and prepare for examinations as normal, the institution's Student Representative Council (SRC) has said.

“The decision is final. Students should continue studying in the libraries and computer labs in order to fully prepare for exams. Exams will continue as planned,” SRC spokesperson Sandla Mtotywa said in a statement released late on Thursday night.

The university was meant to be shut down on Friday, but the SRC said it received a “plethora of complaints from many students”.

“[They] feel that a shutdown at this time of the academic year is not viable and puts pressure on their academics. Students residing in off-campus locations have expressed the extension to the university calendar as their prime concern,” Mtotywa said.

University spokesperson Shirona Patel confirmed that the newly elected SRC had asked for the statement to be circulated to all students.

“Two members of the SRC asked our registrar to circulate that message [from] our email system to all students.”

Mtotywa said students argued that unlike their colleagues in residence, they would incur additional charges from private accommodation providers.

Shutdown for ‘own interest’

“As an SRC that has held a view that we will be mandated by students, we have reached a conclusion that the number of students present at the mass meeting did not represent the holistic demographics of the university.

Mtotywa said that in the mass meeting, students raised numerous issues, including whether they were in solidarity with the University of Cape Town shutdown, issues on the safety of students in Braamfontein because they were already in exams, and if they would indeed protest.

“These issues – we will look into them as we have promised to the general student populace of Wits University. However, students must always know that we are the only highest structure in representing students and they have entrusted us with their votes, so we will never disappoint them.”

Mtotywa added that the SRC was “aware of certain individuals within and external to the university that have been encouraging a shutdown for their own interests”.

“We will always be clear on our stance that we want free quality decolonised education, but if we will shut down campus with exams commencing, then we are not looking out for one another. We won’t be careless and excited by instigators who want a shutdown for their own motives and not for the genuine cause of free education.” DM


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