All nine members of the Men’s Hall of Residence house committee have been evicted from residence and suspended for misconduct during orientation week.
According to Dean of Students, Prem Coopoo: “They disrupted a university event in spite of several requests not to do so and they engaged in initiation practices which are forbidden at Wits.”
The house committee and a group of Men’s Res first years allegedly arrived intoxicated at an inter-residence talent show on Thursday night. They continuously disrupted the performances by singing and provoking other male residences. Rob Sharman, head of campus housing and residence life, was called in to escort them out of Sturrock Park, where the event was being held.
At a meeting held on Friday, the members of the house committee were told to remove belongings from Men’s Res.
They are currently living in David Webster residence.
The nine members are not allowed to communicate with first years and are not permitted to be within 10 metres of other residences. Access to Wits events and use of the internet for non-academic use is prohibited. Rights to any leadership positions have been revoked.
“What they call disruption at the talent show was mere healthy competition amongst the residences,” said a member of the house committee who asked not to be named, for fear of being singled out by the administration. He said that competition between residences has always been a culture at Wits.
The house committee member says that they encourage first years not to start drinking alcohol. “We told the freshmen if you do drink you need to manage it with your studies.”
The house committee says during orientation week, activities done with first years were done consensually.
However Coopoo said that the house committee had been warned about engaging in initiation practices.
“Our first-year students should be mentored, embraced and helped to adjust to a new environment,” says Coopoo. “Humiliation of first year students will not be tolerated.”
Members of the house committee say that they have not broken any university rules and have complied with their suspension. “Our priority is not fighting management but rather providing leadership to first years.”
Investigations into the allegations are underway, and once formal charges are laid against the house committee members, a hearing will be held by the Student Disciplinary Committee.