A number of students who stayed in Wits residences before the lockdown face an unexpected challenge as lectures commence on Monday April 20. 

Wits University students who stayed at various residences on campus voiced their concerns on Twitter to university management that they left behind vital study materials in their rooms after the institution went on early recess on March 16, 2020. 

Students were expected to vacate their rooms within 72 hours after the announcement by the Senior Executive Team, due to the ongoing coronavirus threat. The statement stated that the university would be entering into an early recess and would reopen again on Monday, March 30. However, on March 23, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day lockdown that would begin on March 27. 

Since then the Senior Executive Team released a follow-up statement confirming that Wits would officially reopen on Monday, April 20 with online lectures, leaving students worried that they will not have all their available study materials on hand to continue their courses successfully. 

Ayanda Duma (19), a second  year Bachelor of Accounting Science student, who stayed at the David Webster Hall of Residence, told Wits Vuvuzela that she left behind all her textbooks and notes.

“We were all under the impression that Wits was closed for recess and that we would be back. We were not told to clear our rooms,” said Duma. “We can’t blame Wits, but my biggest concern at the moment is lectures  continuing thinking everybody can go online,” she added. 

Students also raised the issue of costly data charges. 

“I have a device, but data is a problem. It runs out quickly and is expensive” said Monique Ramagoshi (21), a third year BA Education student who stayed  at Medhurst Hall on education campus.

Kamogelo Moloko (20), a second year BA Education student living at Student Digz residence, said she only has access to the internet over her cellphone, as she left her laptop behind because there is no internet at home in KwaThema, Springs.      

Moloko told Wits Vuvuzela that when she communicated her issue to her lecturers, they were helpful and said they would try to make PDF versions of the course packs available to students.

Director of Campus Housing and Residence Life (CHRL), Basil Mugwena, explained that they are taking the lockdown seriously. Mugwena acknowledged that students are frustrated, but explained that staff are unable to travel to campus as well.

“What is critical at this time is saving lives. This affects us all, but it [the lockdown] is a necessity under these circumstances” said Mugwena. 

The CHRL director told  Wits Vuvuzela that the university has made arrangements for students who do not have access to devices and advised them to contact their faculties with their issues. 

The director adds that Wits University management will communicate further details to students in the upcoming week.  

FEATURED IMAGE: Textbooks, files and course notes are just some of the learning materials students have left behind. Photo: Laura Hunter.