Wits poll for students and staff ‘to have a say’ goes ahead despite court challenge

The University of the Witwatersrand’s (Wits) poll which offers students and staff a chance to “have a say on whether you want the academic programme to continue” next week opened on Thursday.

Wits_News ‏@Wits_News tweeted in the morning that “#WitsPoll goes ahead today from 7am - 4pm. Court ruled in favor of @WitsUniversity as protesting students tried to interdict poll”.

Wits Vuvuzela reported on Wednesday that former student representative council (SRC) president Mcebo Dlamini said protesters would go to court to prevent the poll going ahead‚ and said: “We engage with our lawyers Dlamini Attorneys and Dali Mpofu will help”.

Mpofu is the Economic Freedom Fighters chairperson.

The university said in a statement on Wednesday that it would “send an SMS at 7am tomorrow to all students. Students should reply to the SMS replying YES or NO”.

Wits staff would be sent a link to “a website will be circulated via email to staff members (excluding sessional‚ honorary‚ retired and visiting staff‚ external examiners and emeritus professors) with instructions of how to log in and respond”.

Wits SRC general-secretary Fasiha Hassen said on Wednesday described the poll as “insulting”‚ and added: “We cannot reduce the fight for free education to a yes or no question.”

She also suggested that poor students‚ “who have the most to lose have the least access to the poll”.

Wits said on Wednesday that the poll SMSes would be free.

In announcing the poll earlier this week‚ Wits will it would gauge “the thoughts of staff and students on the resumption of the academic programme on Monday‚ if the appropriate security measures are in place”.

“If the majority of students and staff support the reopening on Monday‚ the university will call upon government and the police to meet their obligations to protect the university’s property and to safeguard the lives of all students and staff‚” spokesperson Shirona Patel

While “all responses will remain anonymous”‚ she said the “university believes that the voices of the majority of students and staff need to be heard”.

This came after it had “received hundreds of emails calling for the academic programme to resume”.

To address the “the unfolding and growing crisis in the higher education sector”‚ Patel said Wits is calling for an urgent meeting between vice-chancellors and the ministers of higher education and training‚ justice and police.

“All university activities remain suspended until further notice‚” she added.


Times Live

Source:  Times Live

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