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Campus Update 24 February 2016

Campus Update 24 February 2016

As you may be aware, there have been sporadic incidences of protest action and unrest on campuses throughout the country, with attempts to bring the academic programme to a halt. Unfortunately, UWC has not been immune.

At our campus, the outsourced workers and students continued with protest action since last week. This week the protest was marked by disruptions of some classes and intimidation of students and staff who were not protesting.

The University has now secured an additional court order preventing the group of protesting workers and students from disrupting the academic programme. The court order authorises and directs the police to intervene and assist the University. The court order has been served, read and explained to the protesting group.

Yesterday we agreed to an information sharing meeting with the protesting group to be held on Thursday, 25 February 2016, at 10h00. It is unfortunate that the protest action continued this morning despite this agreement.

Today, the workers and some students congregated in front of the Administration Building and proceeded to the rest of the campus.  We have confirmed reports of classes being disrupted, vandalism and damage to the University property. This is not acceptable!

As a result of these actions by the protesting group, they were engaged by the police and security with some resulting skirmishes.

There is a narrative being created that management has been refusing to engage with the protesting workers and students and thus justifying the continuation of protest and disruption of the academic programme. We wish to unequivocally refute this claim.

The issue of insourcing and our inability to meet this demand at this stage has been part of our engagements since last year. We have also already responded to both the memoranda of demands from students and the workers last week. On Monday, 22 February, the Rector met with a delegation of the protesting workers and reiterated that our finances are constrained and could not accommodate their demands without putting the financial viability of the University at risk. The willingness to meet on Thursday to share information was meant to be another opportunity.

We remain committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all our staff and students, but we are crucially dependent on public order police implementing the conditions of the interdict. 

We continue to call upon the protesting workers and students to refrain from disrupting the academic programme and desist from engaging in any violent activities. Anyone acting in this way will be in violation of the court interdict.

We wish to express our deep appreciation to the staff for their resilience and positive influence to ensure the continuation of the academic programme during these trying times. We are also encouraged by the continued commitment of the overwhelming majority of our students towards their academic responsibilities even though the situation is far from ideal.  

Yours sincerely,

The Executive Management