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Students protest

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“Students may not block entry or movement into or from the university campuses. They are prohibited from intimidating, assaulting and/or threatening any staff member or office-bearer of the university."

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STUDENTS slept on the ground at Luka Jantjie House in Chapel Street on Monday morning to highlight the shortage of accommodation at Sol Plaatje University (SPU).

The students indicated that they were tired and would have to find alternative places to wash up and feed themselves before going to their classes.

Some students did not attend lectures yesterday, in protest against an interdict that was obtained against the student representative council (SRC).

They are also dissatisfied as their demands have not been met yet.

Among their grievances are the shortage of student accommodation, the apparently poor quality of the catered food and unfavourable living conditions at the residences.

The students complained that the wi-fi facilities were not in working order and stated that their rooms were not conducive for studying.

The students related that they were unable to submit their assignments, do proper research or study without internet services.

Placards indicated that their dignity needed to be restored and they also called for the reinstatement of the suspended SRC members.

An urgent interdict was obtained by the university following “anecdotal” incidents of vandalism, intimidation, violence and destruction during protest action that started last week.

In a statement it was noted that the SRC was seeking legal advice regarding the suspension of its president and deputy secretary.

The statement also indicated that the SRC condemned any form of violence towards other students and the damaging of university property. Students were urged to respect the law and obey the court order.

Meanwhile, posts on the university’s social media page have been removed after threats were made against a student.

The student had indicated in a post that she distanced herself from the shutdown and that she wanted to study.

The post evoked anger from protesting students and a number of posts were made in retaliation.

“Let’s burn this nonsensical!!! She is becoming a matter now comrades!”

“You’re damn white and you’re privileged. Shut the f. up!”

“As long as you didn’t attend any shutdown at SPU shut the f up! You don’t have a say in what’s happening on campus. The burning as well, let those who were on campus call it out and not some damn keyboardists, privileged whites.”

The senior manager of communication and marketing at the Office of the Vice-Chancellor, Kashini Maistry, indicated that about 20 students had, of their own choice, decided to station themselves outside Luka Jantjie house from 4am yesterday morning.

Maistry explained that there were rooms available for the students to sleep in, although first-year students were required to share rooms.

She added that lectures commenced for the academic year yesterday.

“Some students opted not to attend classes but the majority of our students were in class and the academic programme is going forward.”

She added that in terms of the interim interdict, students were prevented from engaging in any activity that was designed to disrupt learning, teaching or the administration of the university.

“Students may not block entry or movement into or from the university campuses. They are prohibited from intimidating, assaulting and/or threatening any staff member or office-bearer of the university.

“No damage to property or premises belonging to the university will be allowed.”

Maistry said that the SAPS had authorised the sheriff of the court to assist if any of these conditions were breached.

“There has been no destruction of property since the interdict was communicated to the university community.”

She indicated that management had kept the lines of communication open with the SRC.

“We are providing regular updates to the SRC on matters which they have raised with management.”

She also stated that action had been taken after incidents of intimidation were detected on social media.

“SPU staff and students may operate their own SPU Facebook pages for specific university activities. However, posts that are sexually explicit, sexually suggestive, racist, xenophobic, posts that incite violence and vandalism, promote hate speech, amount to intolerance of religious differences, are discriminatory on the basis of gender, sexual orientation or the differently abled are not permitted. Posts that amount to harassment, intimidation or are defamatory will also not be tolerated by the university.”