UNIVERSITY OF THE WESTERN CAPE (UWC) COUNCIL STATEMENT A CALL FOR PEACE AND STABILITY ON CAMPUS
The University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) Council is disappointed in the events that transpired at the University on Wednesday, 19 October 2016. The instability and volatility at Higher Education institutions across the country is an unfortunate symptom of broader societal issues. The University Council held a special meeting on Thursday, 20 October 2016 to discuss the events on campus.
In view of the current instability at UWC and at other higher education institutions, Council supports the decision of the University’s Senate Executive Committee to use online platforms and other modes of learning to assist students in finalising the academic year in preparation for the final examinations which can be written either in November 2016 or in January 2017. As Council, we implore our students and parents to bear with the management of the University and staff as they do everything that is possible to successfully complete this academic year. Council emphatically denounces the violence, incidents of arson, destruction and intimidation and the continuous disruptions of the operations of the University. Council regrets the frustration and trauma that has been experienced by students during the last two weeks and especially in the days leading up to yesterday’s unfortunate events.
A university is intended to be place of learning and open engagement. UWC values the campus as an open space where people should be able to express contesting views through dialogue and through ongoing research inquiry. It is unfortunate, that the turn of events yesterday resulted in an intervention by the South African Police Services. Council appealed to all stakeholders to take up the offer of engaging with Management in a multi-stakeholder meeting where students can work together towards joint solutions. We have confidence in management handling and resolving the current issues at hand. Council also resolved to appeal to all stakeholders to restore campus operations so that campus activities can resume, with peace and stability to ensure the safety of the campus community. Council also requested the media to be factual and responsible in their reporting and not sensational as factually incorrect media reports created unnecessary confusion amongst students, parents and staff. Incorrectly, some media houses reported “UWC abandons the academic year” and this is not true.
UWC Council and Management supports the call for free higher education for the poor and financial models to assist the missing middle. We urge the State to expedite its processes and provide feedback to the nation on how it plans to address these issues given the critical state of affairs.