TOWNHALL POLITICS: Pamela Dube, Shafee Verachia and Adam Habib (left to right) fielding the audience questions about promises made. Photo: Palesa Tshandu

TOWNHALL POLITICS: (from left to right), Dr Pamela Dube, Shafee Verachia and Prof Adam Habib field questions about promises made. Photo: Palesa Tshandu

There is a lack of diversity at Wits University residences and the vice-chancellor hopes to change this by encouraging more white students to live in res.

Prof Adam Habib was addressing a gathering of staff and students at a townhall meeting in the Great Hall earlier today where he emphasised his mission  to “get the right balance between diversity and cosmopolitanism.” “The constitution and freedom charter demands that diversity,” he said.

He said Wits is a diverse university, but the residence life does not reflect that. But his suggestion to have more white students in res was not without criticism. Witsie Mcebo Dlamini reacted by saying that Habib is “bringing a culture of racism in (sic) this university”. Dlamini questioned why white students are encouraged to live in residences when they can afford to live in their “Sandton and Rosebank homes”.

Other students in attendance believe that Habib should be more concerned with poor students, mostly black, and some not from Gauteng who struggle to find accommodation.

Habib said the university was currently in engagements with South Point, Angus properties and other property developers in Braamfontein to form a partnership to expand the number of beds available for students.

Habib started today’s townhall by reflecting on the goals he had achieved from promises made at previous meetings. Some achievements include the cleanup of sewage from outside Esselen res and the establishment of a new bus stop directly outside the same residence.

In response to a question about the proposed upfront fee increase to over ten thousand rands, Habib said the university is currently facing a deficit of R25 million in outstanding tuition fees from international students which has necessitated the proposed increase.