Wits medical students protest over transformation

Wits medical students protest over transformation on Wednesday                Photo: Ayanda Mgede

Wits medical students staged a protest on Wednesday afternoon, calling the Faculty of Health Sciences out on illegal student exclusions and delayed processes of transformation.

The students complained about the slow rate of transformation at Medical School and some students falling victim to what they say are illegal exclusions.

“Management failed to give students a criteria to even begin with so how are they now telling them that they failed to meet a criteria?” said Nkosinathi Maluleke who led the protest and currently sits in the Student Transformation Committee.

The students raised concerns about the processes of dealing with students who had not been attending compulsory activities in their field, which is part of their course.  The compulsory activities include field experience, such as working in a hospital, to gain real world experience.

The protesting students say that the faculty forced them to deregister for the course this year and come back next year because of failure to meet their due performance scores.

This was, however, overturned this morning when the faculty announced that its decision would be withdrawn. Martin Veller, the dean of health sciences, told Wits Vuvuzela that “The reason why we withdrew that was because the process was not according to the rules of the university and we will address that as it was not correct.”

But Veller said he was concerned about students not wanting to take responsibility for what they came to Medical School to do, he said that it did not look good to have medical professionals who were not seen in their skills environments. “We can’t guarantee if you really acquired those skills and that was our contention,” said Veller

Veller added that they were committed to a broad transformation project but that it is always limited by resources that are available to the faculty. “We’re in the process of addressing transformation and many other issues they raised but no transformation is ever fast enough,” he said.

The students read out a memorandum with their tabled demands and gave management seven days to respond in writing. Veller that the protest showed a level of impatience that he admires from the students but said a lot of the demands were already being addressed by the faculty

Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) Vice-President Motheo Brodie said that the SRC was aware of the demands by students and that they have been engaging with the Student Transformation Committee in the Medical School Council.

“I hope that management will respond because if they don’t, this might not have a pretty ending,” he said.