Three weeks of protest…and now a historic general assembly at Wits


Students gather around the steps of the Great Hall to listen to former SRC president Mcebo Dlamini. Photo: Laura Pisanello

Students gather around the steps of the Great Hall to listen to former SRC president Mcebo Dlamini.                                                                                                       Photo: Laura Pisanello

After three weeks of protest and shutdown, Wits University will hold a general assembly on Friday, one of only a few in the university’s history.


What about the right to study?

The recent disruptions at Wits this past week have led all of us to a difficult question. Is the goal of free higher education worth the potential destruction of the university, negatively affecting the economy by delaying students from graduating and demoralising lecturers?

From my point of view as a paying student, who has put himself into serious debt to attend varsity, no, it is not. Firstly we all need to understand that higher education, such as university is not a right and never will be. It is a privilege. As a paying student who is not financially well off I can understand the issue that some people face.

Attending varsity is receiving a service for which you must pay. Wits is a self-sustaining entity that cannot survive on government subsidies alone. What’s next? A student is hungry then they should get free Steers just because they want it and all paying Steers customers must leave the Drive Through but can’t take their cars with them? Why?

What did the paying students do? Last I checked Dr Blade[Nzimande] was the minister of higher education and Mr [Pravin] Gordhan was the finance minister. Not the paying students, who are made to feel guilty because they have found a way to fund their education in pursuit of bettering themselves.

If anyone understands the plight of underprivileged students, it’s their fellow students  and Wits staff . However, we are starting to lose sympathy for [protesting students] when we are attacked and locked on campus against our will. The goal of free education, while very unlikely, is a marathon and not a sprint. It has not been achieved by first world countries whose governments have a fraction of the corruption of the South African government.

We all need to understand that burning down what little we have is achieving equality of the lowest standard. It is not how we will progress to a better future and it is not how we will achieve free education, but rather how we destroy a country.

The fight must be taken to the government and not us paying students. We have paid for a service and have the right to receive it, without the fear of physical harm. That is a right no protester may take from us.


Wits Vuvuzela, Wits: Poll not the only decider, September 2016

What solidarity looks like

I’ve learnt, not only through my participation and involvement in #FeesMustFall, but my upbringing and other social justice work, that in moments when others aren’t able to carry themselves, I have to extend comradeship in order to continue the cause that we are collectively fighting for .