Friday, 30 October 2015

From the Desk of the VC - 30 October 2015

Dear Colleagues

Following on my earlier communication, my update now is regrettable and very sad. THIS IS NOT UWC. After our very positive staff meeting, some of our staff engaged with the protesting group and then gave me the impression that the leadership of 8 were keen to have a dialogue with the rector and possibly the SRC, mediated by an eminent person.
In their words the students “just wanted their voices to be heard” and on the basis of this I engaged the SRC  until late Thursday evening and resumed again early this morning, to get them to agree. The Chancellor, Archbishop Makgoba, graciously agreed to this, even though he only returned from London this morning and proceeded directly from the airport to the campus.  While I was briefing the Archbishop on the objectives of the intervention, arrangements were made for him and me to meet with the SRC first and then with the leaders of the protesting group. It is our information that soon after this arrangement was communicated, a group of students marched from the Student Centre to the residences, indicating that they were going to mobilise support. At the residences the security refused them entry, which led to students using “bricks, belts, sticks and sjamboks” against the security. Several of our security were injured and one so badly that he required hospitalisation.
The students then proceeded in the direction of the Student Centre and basically thrashed and vandalised the Administration building (the first and second floors of both the East and West wings), the Campus Protection offices and the School of Government building. Other reports are of widespread damage all over the campus.
Since we are basically trapped in the Administration building by a small militant group of students with bricks and other weapons, we are not yet clear on the exact extent of the damage.  As I, members of the executive and professional staff as well as the SRC, were trapped in the building,  I experienced first-hand the trauma that our residence students have been going through for the last number of days. Consequently, I regret to inform you that I had no other choice but to apply for an urgent Court Order as well as to bring the South African Police Services onto campus. Unfortunately the Police did not respond immediately, because of the past action taken against Police when they acted on campuses without the protection of a Court Order.
The sentiment that the protesting group only “wanted to be heard” was proven untrue this afternoon. I previously met with them in the mass meeting a week ago and listened to their demands for over 2 hours. I subsequently facilitated the presentation of their demands to the SRC. With the SRC we already started addressing the issues raised in their memorandum. We were in the process of arranging a conversation between the Archbishop,  the Rector and this group.  They are claiming  this rampage is the result of the Rector not being available for them and I reject this claim absolutely. The evidence is there that they pretended to want to have a dialogue, but when the opportunity was presented to them, they went on a rampage. 

We have deployed a team of councillors to assist our students in the residences, especially the first-years, to help them deal with the trauma they have experienced. 
I will keep you updated and I call on all staff to be unambiguous in condemning this atrocious behaviour.
Yours sincerely

Professor Tyrone Pretorius
Rector and Vice-Chancellor

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Short statement and call from Concerned UWC Academics and Staff Group 27 October 2015


We, the undersigned staff members of the University of the Western Cape, stand in solidarity with the struggle of students for the right to access higher education in whatever forums they find themselves. As members of UWC, we welcome the challenge they have issued to South Africa as a country and to our university in particular. Their struggle is a struggle to study; it is a struggle for education, not for riotous assembly or an escape from the rigors of intellectual work. Our students are protesting as students so as to be students. 

This is not only a time of crisis, but is also a time of emergence. It is a moment in which the needs of a new expression of higher education in South Africa can begin to be shaped and planted. Acessibility, as students themselves have articulated, is not merely a question of fees. It has to do with everyday life, the cost of residence, the accessibility of resources such as books and computers. Accessibility also means having the time and space to read. 

We also recognize that the crisis goes deeper than the issue of fees. The demand of #feesmustfall; includes demands for university transformation,for the decolonization of our syllabi. This also calls into question the government’s long-term under-funding of our tertiary sector which affects HBI's in particularly acute ways. We urge university management to play a role in ensuring that the consequences of the 0% fee increase is dealt with nationally rather than institution by institution to ensure that inequalities between HWI’s and HBI's do not deepen. But free education is not only about money, resources, student to lecturer ratios, the end to the outsourcing, although it clearly does mean this. It also means an education that works towards freedom. 

We have been encouraged by the efforts of different student groups to work together. But we are deeply concerned at the potential for division and polarization which exists on our campus and in our community as a whole. There is a risk that existing divisions might be deepened; that students may be pitted against administration,and that the financial crisis of the tertiary education sector is deepened. 

1) We join with the call of our sister institutions for an end to police brutality. We support the right of our students to peaceful and democratic protest and condemn the violence involved in the brutal response of the police. We call on the SAPS to abide by the terms of the interdict brought in Western Cape in the interest of protesting students,call for all charges against students to be dropped, and call for the university management to assist students where necessary to enforce their rights. 

2) We recognise that the majority of the students have been participating in this protest action in a disciplined manner and commend them for their restraint.We believe that acts of intimidation and threats of violence will not serve the cause of the struggle for higher education,and call on all sectors of the student body to work to prevent these. 

3) We call on the university management to ensure the safety and food security of all students on campus, whether they are part of protests or not. The call to shut down the university is not a call to lock down campus. We therefore call on staff to continue to provide all students, whether participating in the protests or not, with the moral, legal, and academic support they need. 

4) We recognise the divided nature of our campus community at present and note the threat that this poses to our capacity to adequately respond to this crisis. We call on all sectors of the campus community, including students, support and outsourced staff and academics to join in an inclusive and democratic process to chart a course forward for our university in a transparent way. 

Issued by: Concerned UWC Academics and University Staff  

Woldekidan Amde                School of Public Health
Fiona Anciano      
Jung Ran Annachiara Forte         Dept Anthropology
Bassey Antia                             Linguistics Dept
Blanche Assam                         Foreign Languages
DH Bagwandeen                       Campus Health Services
Felix Banda                          Linguistics Dept
Susan Bassett                           Dept Sports
Umesh Bawa                            Psychology
Simon Beck                              Philosophy Dept
Alannah Birch                      English
Zannie Bock                              Linguistics
Linday Clowes                          Women & Gender Studies Dept
Ina Conradie                            ISD
Diane Cooper                            Public Health
Ben Cousins                                  PLAAS
Freda Daniels                           Department of Lifelong Learning
Charl Davids                             Psychology
Gavin Davis                              Department of Library and Information Science
Peter Dellobelle                    School of Public Health
Arona Dison                              Community & Health Sciences
Andries Du Toit                         PLAAS
Marijke Du Toit                         Arts Faculty
Michael Dyssel                          Department of Geography
William Ellis                              Sociology
David Fisher                             Department of Medical Bioscience
Miki Flockemann                       English
Diana Gibson                            Anthropology
Heidi Grunebaum                Centre for Humanities
Ruth Hall                             PLAAS
Mafaniso Hara                          PLAAS
Patricia Hayes                           History
Kate Highman      
Rechelle Jacobs    
Moenieba Isaacs                       PLAAS
Paolo Israel                              History Dept
Catherine Kell                           Linguistics
Muhali Mulalo Kenneth               PURE study, School of Public Health
Gillian Kerchhoff                        PLAAS
Lucia Knight School of Public Health
Peter Kohler                             English
Ernesta Kunneke  
Uta Lehmann                            School of Public Health
Martina Lembani                       School of Public Health
Desiree Lewis                           Women & Gender Studies Dept
Robert Lindsay                          Dept of Physics
Julia Martin                               English Dept
Glenton Matthyse                Gender Equity Unit
Aquilina Mawadza                Linguistics Dept
Uma Mesthrie                      Deputy Dean, Arts Faculty
Fiona Moolla                             English Dept
Ferdinand Mukumbang              School of Public Health
Fairuz Mullagee                    Social Law Project, Faculty of Law
Kathy Nadasen                    Anthropology/ Sociology
David Neves                             PLAAS
Grace Nkomo      
Susan Ntete                              English
Amiena Peck                             Linguistics Dept
Sharon Penderis                   ISD
Laurence Piper                          Dept of Political Science
Efua Prah Department of Anthropology and Sociology
Rebbeca Pointer                        PLAAS
Ciraj Rassool                            History Dept
Gavin Reagon                           School of Public Health
Bradley Rink                             Geography
Nicky Rousseau                   History Dept
Anna Samuel                            Arts Faculty
Nikky Schaay                            School of Public Health
Helen Schneider                   School of Public Health
ammy Shefer                          Women & Gender Studies
Vera Scott                                School of Public Health
Chris Stroud Centre for Multilingualism
Barbara Tapela                         PLAAS
Peter Van Heusden                    SANBI
Maria van Staden                Gender Equity Unit
Lisa Wegner         
Michael Wessels                        English Dept
Quentin Williams                  Linguistics Dept
Sally Witbooi                             Department of Library and Information Science
Hermann Wittenberg                 English Dept
Lesley Witz                               History

Wendy Woodward

Monday, 26 October 2015

UWC Fees Must Student Movement memorandum 26 October 2015

Message from the VC: Prof. Tyrone Pretorius - sent out 25 October


Dear Campus Community,

The announcement by President Zuma regarding the 0% increase for 2016 was communicated on Friday and has since received widespread media attention.  We would like to congratulate the students of UWC and all other universities for igniting critical conversations both nationally and internationally.  In general there has also been widespread appreciation expressed for the high level of discipline displayed by protesting students. I am hopeful that all the role-players within the higher education sector will be able to show the required leadership and commitment to find long-term solutions to enable us to make progress in ensuring that equitable and affordable access for students is not a pipe-dream.  This will not be an easy task financially, especially for historically disadvantaged universities who do not have the level of reserves and endowments to be able to absorb ongoing underfunding by Government.  As an institution we now need to grapple with the implications of the 0% fee increase on our own financial situation in 2016, as some universities are required to co-fund the shortfall arising from this decision. But, as an institution we remain committed to transformation and improving the lives of people from all walks of life. To bring about this much needed change in our society, there are few ways as powerful as investing in education.  
While the campus has been fairly quiet since the 0% announcement, I have given an undertaking to provide regular updates.
As reported in earlier campus community notices, sent out via sms’s, reported on UWC’s website and all our social media platforms, the final exams have been postponed by a week and are now scheduled to start on Monday, 2 November 2015.

Please note that UWC will reopen tomorrow (Monday, 26 October 2015) as stated in our previous communication.
Earlier today the Student Representative Council issued a statement saying that: “The SRC urges all students to utilise this time to focus and prepare for their final examinations. In that sense, students are discouraged from participating in any protest that may seek to derail their preparation for the upcoming examination.”  We fully respect our formally elected student governance structure and support them in this call. We do, however, recognise that not all student political organisations are currently in agreement regarding the way forward and that there are opposing ideas emerging. 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 have been made aware of messages going out to students forewarning them of potential risks if they do not participate in planned demonstrations tomorrow. In saying this, we do not support any forms of intimidation or victimisation by any grouping(s) on campus.
You might also be interested to know that a group of UWC academics issued a statement this afternoon, expressing a much more nuanced perspective on the broader societal issues underlying the protest actions.
I want to urge all students to now concentrate on your exam preparation.  The national discussions that were started this week are far from over, and the full implications of the 0% increase will unfold in the weeks ahead. The national process of working towards solutions is only starting now. The issues being raised are critical and important, but let us please not lose sight of the fact that it is equally important for students to complete their examinations this year without further interruption.
I have asked all Deans and Executive members to ensure that academics and professional support colleagues are available for student enquiries over the next week. I would also like to encourage students who are in need of counselling services to make use of the Therapeutic Services offered through the Centre for Student Support Services. You are welcome to visit their offices or contact them at 021 959 2299.

As agreed in the meeting held with students in the Student Centre on Friday 23 October 2015, I will await the memorandum of the SRC outlining student grievances. The University’s Executive Management is fully aware of the fact that students have other concerns in addition to the 0% fee increase and we are committed to continue to engage with students on these matters.   
Following the vandalism, looting and robbery of some of our service providers’ stock and earnings by a group of opportunists who were attempting to devalue an important national student campaign, the SRC and Central Housing Committee (CHC) asked the University to close the dining halls, in support of the national shutdown.  The University management, SRC and CHC took the necessary action to ensure that residence and opidan students were assisted with food parcels and drinks. 
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank UWC staff members, alumni, volunteers from the community, counsellors, senior students and members of the public for their donations and in making our support responses even more efficient.  Thank you also to our doctors, medics and other staff members who have been on the ground to ensure that students in need of medical attention were taken care of.
To students, I would like to wish you all the best with your exam preparation.

Best regards,

Tyrone Pretorius
Rector and Vice-Chancellor

Posted 23/10/2015 
UWC Management engages with students

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) acknowledges the President’s address on the 0% increase of university fees. The University will examine the proposals by national government and liaise with its internal stakeholders and Council on how the decision will affect the University.
“The University has been in full support of the national campaign and with the Student Representative Council we need to find long term sustainable solutions,” said Professor Tyrone Pretorius, Vice-Chancellor of UWC.
Today UWC’s Vice-Chancellor and Management Team met with UWC students, who were later joined by students from other universities. “I had an opportunity to listen to the students’ concerns, where it was stated that the 0% increase was not the only reason for their protest but that it provided a platform to raise other pertinent issues affecting them,” said Prof Pretorius.
The Vice-Chancellor addressed the students and affirmed UWC’s commitment and support to the national campaign to address student funding demands and access to Higher Education. The Vice-Chancellor also answered questions that were raised by the students.
The University is awaiting a memorandum from the students and will consult with key stakeholders on how to address the issues raised by the students.
The University has postponed examinations by a week to afford students adequate opportunity to study in preparation for exams. Examinations will now commence on Monday, 2 November 2015.