First year students are strongly advised to report any initiation acts involving house committee members.

Three Wits University students* have been accused of abusing first-year students during the university’s orientation programme  which ran from January 27 to 31, 2020. One of the three was suspended by the university on Tuesday, January 28, while an investigation is conducted, according to Director of Campus Housing and Residence Life (CHRL), Basil Mugwena.

The suspension came after first year students from three different Wits residences reported that they had been denied access to facilities for common use, such as the elevator at their accommodation and were demanded that they sing until midnight and wake up at 05:00 am in the morning.

Mugwena told Wits Vuvuzela, that an investigation against the three students was conducted after Campus Housing and Residence Life received “several complaints regarding behaviour associated with initiation, a practice that is prohibited by the university.”

“Initiation practices are a no go area,” said Jerome September, the Dean of student affairs at Wits, in an address to first-years in the faculty of Commerce, Law and Management (CLM) on Wednesday, January 29, urging students to report any initiation practices.

Mugwena said first-year students who were subjected to initiation practices felt they were deprived from much needed rest so that they could “function the next day and participate meaningfully in the formal O-week programme designed to prepare them for the year ahead.”

“No student must be subjected to demeaning acts, be forced to participate in any activity that infringes on their dignity or threatens their well-being,” said Mugwena.

The matters against the suspended house committee member, along with two other house committee members have been forwarded to the Wits Legal Office to determine their future at the university.

“Investigations are ongoing and additional information will be made available once all three cases have been finalised. Allegations will be tested and status update will be given in the next two weeks,” said Mugwena.

First-year students are encouraged to report any form of abuse to their residence wardens, cluster managers and also to the director of CHRL should they experience any form of abuse

*The identities of the students under investigation has not been disclosed to Wits Vuvuzela.

FEATURED IMAGE: Wits University has emphasised that it will not tolerate intiation practices. Photo: File.