Home Opinion & Features Varsity protests risk undoing gains

Varsity protests risk undoing gains

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We are sure that has not changed – though probably the percentage is more

#FEESMustFall activist Mcebo Dlamini is asking for his criminal record to be expunged. The former Wits SRC president, found guilty of public violence and given a suspended sentence, studied law and is concerned he will now not be able to practise.

This is the reality of being involved in protests which turn violent and comes, ironically, as Wits Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib starts his round of goodbyes before heading to the UK to take up a new post.

Habib controversially called in the police to Wits during protests in 2016 and, while he was criticised for it at the time, he remains convinced it was the right thing to do to protect a public institution and in the interests of the majority at Wits.

In an interview published at the weekend, he said he had polled students and 80% wanted an environment in which to complete their studies so they could go out and work to support their families.

We are sure that has not changed – though probably the percentage is more.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, too, has condemned the violence which has flared up again on certain university and TVET campuses countrywide, that has led to the academic programme being suspended with consequences for non-protesting students.

Nzimande has repeatedly appealed to students to stay calm, saying that violence, destruction of property and intimidation will not provide a solution to valid concerns over tuition fees and accommodation.

Rather, what it does is delay the implementation of agreements to deal with such concerns. It also disrupts the academic calendar and, with that, the chance of success of the majority of students.

While we should never forget the sacrifices and the achievements of the #FeesMustFall generation, especially in getting the government to increase funding and open up access to such institutions, protests should not derail the academic programme now so that those gains for so many who would otherwise not be studying, are reversed.