Wits University has allocated an extra R60-million to help with financial aid for students, but the SRC is still not satisfied.
This cash injection for struggling students was announced at a media briefing on Monday by incoming Vice Chancellor Adam Habib. This followed reports in both Wits Vuvuzela and The Star about students sleeping in the library due to a lack of accommodation.
In response, SRC secretary Tasneem Essop said: “If there are still students sleeping in the library because of lack of accommodation then that R60-million is not enough.”
The SRC had sent a report about the accommodation problem to senate on March 14. The report wanted the university to “take this issue [lack of accommodation] seriously”.
The report also demanded the registrar “take responsibility for making sure that the students are helped”.
Essop said Wits had been refusing to acknowledge the accommodation problem. “They say it’s a fallacy.”
SRC Treasurer Justice Nkomo said: “Students sleeping in the library highlights lack of transformation at Wits and it means the university has not dealt with inequality.”
The problem of student accommodation is “directly linked with the number of exclusions per year and it is also linked with race,” he said. “There is a huge amount of black students from working class families, who will be excluded because they did not have a place to stay and they did not have food.”
Nkomo said the message that was being communicated by Wits management was that Wits was an “elite” university. “I have never seen a white student coming here and asking for help.”
The SRC wanted the university to give more money to help students with such problems, he said. “We need a social relief fund. How will we reach top 100 [universities in the world] when our students are sleeping in libraries?”