By: Chloe Osmond
Fees Must Fall protest action began to gain momentum at the University Currently Known as Rhodes (UCKAR) on Tuesday 20 September as a group of students mobilised and interrupted lectures, culminating in a mass student body meeting which was called by the Student Representative Council.
A large group of students, approximately 200, gathered for a meeting which was called on Monday night via an anonymous text message. Many students left as time went by, but a smaller group stayed late into the night to strategise for the way forward. They reconvened at 5:30 on Tuesday morning and began to mobilise around campus. Several lectures were interrupted during the course of the day.
Vice Chancellor Mabizela then called a meeting at Barratt lecture theatre with the university staff. He explained the situation and had the Executive Director of Infrastructure, Operations & Finance, Dr Iain L’Ange, give a presentation on the financial state of the university. He mentioned many factors, including a decrease in government subsidies and the university’s own expenses, and concluded his presentation by stating that without a fee increase or an increase in the number fee-paying students, the university would face serious financial struggles in the coming years.
Later on Tuesday evening, a meeting was called by the SRC, at which they expressed their desire to hear the constituency of students’ demands and goals, and to talk about the possibility of a shutdown. After some discussion, the meeting descended into chaos and numbers dwindled, but the conclusions reached were that, firstly, the SRC advocates for free education, and not any particular fee increment. Secondly, that the SRC will discuss the situation amongst themselves, then bring the matter to the university management in an attempt to gain their support. SRC visits at residences will also begin tomorrow so that they can get a clear picture of what the majority of students want to do. At the current time, there will not be an SRC endorsed shut down on Wednesday 21 September.
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