There is no intention to replace black students with white students in Wits residences, says Wits Vice Chancellor (VC) Prof Adam Habib.
Speaking exclusively to Wits Vuvuzela, Habib responded to this week’s furore around the revised residence admissions policy which saw some student organisations threatening a boycott of the upcoming SRC (Student Representative Council) elections if Habib did not address their concerns.
Habib said “there is no special incentives for white students.” “What is at place is making sure that we have an appropriate balance between demographic representivity and cosmopolitanism. We believe this can be done without adversely affecting poor students or existing students.”
“We want to ensure that our students have a holistic experience in our residences that they interact with other students across racial boundaries, religious boundaries, ethnic boundaries and cultural boundaries but also class boundaries. We do not want rich students sitting in one place and staying in one res and poor students staying in another res”, said Habib.
On Wednesday, student organisations, residents and house committee members accused Habib of wanting to replace black students with white students in the effort to make residences more cosmopolitan.
According to Habib, the university’s “integration agenda” should be reflective of South African society.
“Even though our society and institution is majority black, obviously our residences will be majority black. But a majority black institution does not mean that we can’t be cosmopolitan.”
Speaking on behalf of student leadership representatives, Sunnyside chairperson Maame Boateng said:”We are not against diversity in our residences but a policy that looks to disenfranchise the majority of current residents in order to serve a privileged minority”.
The student leadership representatives are “calling for a recall of the policy in its entirety and/ or creation of a new policy that will be fair and equal for all students and not unjustifiably benefits any class or race group”, Boateng said.
Habib, along with university management and student leadership representatives, will hold another round of consultations on Saturday afternoon where more cases will be heard and discussed.
“Student leadership will stand firm tomorrow in the fight for students those who we serve. We will not stop until a policy is put in place that will in no way detriment any student, a decision that will serve the best interests of all students”, said Boateng
In the meantime, Habib has agreed to halt the implementation of the controversial policy pending further discussion with student organisations.
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Wits Vuvuzela, UPDATE: Student organisations unite to challenge revised residence admission policy, August 2014