Dear Campus Community
This communique serves to inform staff and students that the University leadership has taken the decision to close the University until further notice.
As indicated yesterday, a university campus has to be a place where we welcome rigorous engagement with societal issues, and that we “respect the right of individual groupings to disagree and to voice and demonstrate this in different ways. While we respect the right to demonstrate peacefully …. we do not support any forms of intimidation or victimisation by any grouping(s) on campus.”
We have noted with concern that last night there was a message sent to residence students demanding that they participate in this morning’s continued protest action. This led to a number of residence students leaving the campus in the early hours of the morning in order to avoid harassment. This morning, a group of students started rallying support for ongoing protest action across campus buildings and offices, demanding that staff must leave the campus. The intensity of the action by students led to many staff feeling vulnerable and intimidated as some of the students wore balaclavas and had sticks and crowbars. There were also reported incidents of verbal abuse of staff.
At the same time, there was a meeting of concerned staff in favour of dialogue with protesting students. I attended the latter part of this meeting and expressed my desire for continued engagement.
The decision to close the University was not taken lightly. We have the responsibility to ensure the safety of our staff and students and this has become quite difficult given the incidents of intimidation and vandalism that occurred on campus this morning. We hope that the closure of the University will assist in providing the required space for different groupings to engage as we all search for solutions that will restore stability on campus.
For now, the final exams are still scheduled to commence on 2 November 2015. Deans and HODs are encouraged to find ways to continue to support students in their preparation for the exams.
Students and staff are encouraged to contact the Campus Protection Services on 021 959 3777 if there are any incidents of vandalism, violence or intimidation to report.
We will continue to monitor the situation and, as we have done over the past few days, will keep the campus community updated on developments, including when the campus will reopen.
Prof Tyrone Pretorius
Rector and Vice-Chancellor