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Campus Update

Date Released: Thu, 6 October 2016 11:48 +0200

Campus Update 6 November

The night of Friday 4 November saw acts of vandalism on campus with some windows shattered by a small number of protesters.  Two protesters were arrested in relation to these incidents. The cost of replacing glass adds to the financial burden of other forms of destruction experienced recently, including arson. The University condemns this wanton damage to property absolutely.

At approximately 05h50 on the morning of 5 November, three guards from the University’s Campus Protection Unit, who were on their way home after completing a shift, were the victims of a sustained physical assault by protesters. Two protesters are in police custody as a consequence. The University condemns in the strongest terms the assault and intimidation of staff members and students. This kind of behaviour will not be tolerated. The staff members have been treated for their injuries and are recovering well.

We have also been advised that another protester was arrested at the Grahamstown Police Station following an incident there.

In the early hours of the morning of 6 November a fire began in a kitchen attached to one of the University’s dining halls.  The fire, which was brought under control by emergency services, is under forensic investigation.  Arrangements have been made for students who would normally eat in the dining hall served by the kitchen to eat at other halls nearby.

The University continuously reviews its arrangements for security in order to ensure the wellbeing of staff and students.

Examinations conducted from 28 October have proceeded smoothly without incident.  We are grateful to all who have worked to ensure that this has been possible.

Issued by Communications and Advancement Division

Campus Update 27 October

By now you will be aware that the option exists for students to write their final examinations now, in October/November 2016, or alternatively in January/February 2017.  The second option has been accommodated in acknowledgement of the fact that many students are experiencing stress and anxiety because of the events that have taken place in recent weeks.  It will require a huge amount of extra work for academic and support staff, and the university is very proud of its staff for stepping up to make this possible.

Details of conditions attached to each of these options can be found below.

Students must exercise their choice by 12 noon on Friday 28 October by visiting the Student Bureau. Students who are off campus can email supps@ru.ac.za.

The situation on campus remains of great concern, with clashes between protesting students and police on a number of occasions, and three arson attempts on the afternoon of 26 October.

Every attempt has been made to ensure the safety and security of students and staff over the examination period as well as to ensure that examinations can proceed without disruption.  This is being done so that students who choose to are able to complete their academic year. We are extremely grateful to academic and support staff who have volunteered to provide assistance with the extra measures being taken at venues.  These staff members will also be on hand to offer reassurance and encouragement to students.

Although the additional security procedures are essential, they will involve no more than a traveller might experience at an airport.

The University has employed additional highly trained security personnel over the examination period.

Staff and students are reminded that they may call the Campus Protection Unit on 046 603 8147 / 8146 / 8999, for assistance or to report incidents.

Examination Update

Following consultations with the Deans and Heads of Departments, and in acknowledgement that many students are experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety because of events experienced on campus in recent weeks, a decision has been taken to allow all students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, the option of writing examinations either now, in October/November 2016, or in January/February 2017.

The decision to write either now or in January/February 2017 applies to all subjects. It will not be possible to choose to write some subjects now and some subjects in January/February 2017.

If you choose to write in October/November 2016

1.        You do not need to tell us if you want to write in October/November 2016.
2.        Agreements for supplementary examinations will continue to stand. Any student who receives a minimum of 35% as a final mark for a course will be entitled to a supplementary examination.  No fee will be charged for this examination.
3.        No changes will be made to dates of examinations.


If choose to write in January/February 2017

1.        No extra charges for writing will be levied.
2.        Go to the Student Bureau by 12h00 on Friday 28th October 2016 to sign a declaration that you want to delay writing your examinations.   
You will need to show your student card to do this.
3.        Any examination papers or practical exams written so far will stand and you will not need to repeat these in 2017.
4.        Supplementary examinations will not be available.
5.        Students will be required to vacate residence rooms by 17h00 on Saturday 28 October.  Students who are not able to meet this deadline because of difficulties in making travel arrangements must make an application to their warden to be allowed to stay for a short time longer.
6.        Residence fees charged from the time a student vacates a room in October 2016 until the normal closing date for residences will be credited to students' accounts.  This credit can be used to pay for residence accommodation needed over the January/February 2017 examination period.
7.        You will be allowed to go back into a residence room 48 hours before your first examination in January/February 2017.


If you have any questions, please consult your Dean.

Issued by Communications and Advancement Division

 

26 October 

Following consultations with the Deans and Heads of Departments, and in acknowledgement that many students are experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety because of events experienced on campus in recent weeks, a decision has been taken to allow all students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, the option of writing examinations either now, in October/November 2016, or in January/February 2017.

The decision to write either now or in January/February 2017 applies to all subjects. It will not be possible to choose to write some subjects now and some subjects in January/February 2017.

If you choose to write in October/November 2016

1.        You do not need to tell us if you want to write in October/November 2016.
2.        Agreements for supplementary examinations will continue to stand.  Any student who receives a minimum of 35% as a final mark for a course will be entitled to a supplementary examination.  No fee will be charged for this examination.
3.        No changes will be made to dates of examinations.


If choose to write in January/February 2017

1.        No extra charges for writing will be levied.
2.        Go to the Student Bureau by 17h00 on Thursday 27 October 2016 to sign a declaration that you want to delay writing your examinations.  You will need to show your student card to do this.
3.        Any examination papers or practical exams written so far will stand and you will not need to repeat these in 2017.
4.        Supplementary examinations will not be available.
5.        Students will be required to vacate residence rooms by 17h00 on Saturday 29 October.  Students who are not able to meet this deadline because of difficulties in making travel arrangements must make an application to their warden to be allowed to stay for a short time longer.
6.        Residence fees charged from the time a student vacates a room in October 2016 until the normal closing date for residences will be credited to students’ accounts.  This credit can be used to pay for residence accommodation needed over the January/February 2017 examination period.
7.        You will be allowed to go back into a residence room 48 hours before your first examination in January/February 2017.

If you have any questions, please consult your Dean.

Issued by Communications and Advancement Division

23 October 2016

On the night of Saturday 22 October 2016, demonstrators went through the campus causing widespread damage to a range of infrastructure.  Several street lights were damaged, and a large number of windows were broken by throwing stones and bricks by hand and with the use of catapults.  Extensive glass damage was done to the Great Hall, the Sol Plaatje Institute, the Library, and the Geography Department.  Several fires were started, notably in the intersection of Prince Alfred and South Street, and the entrance to the Great Hall Veranda.  Several vehicles were damaged, including a police vehicle. 

Police investigators are following up cases of vandalism and arson.

Until violent protests and police responses cease, campus residents are requested to remain indoors at night for their own safety.

As always, staff at the Counseling Centre are available to provide support.  Wardens and many other members of the academic staff are also available to assist students in these challenging times. 

Staff and students are reminded that they may call the Campus Protection Unit on 046 603 8147 / 8146 / 8999, for assistance or to report incidents.

Campus staff are requested to report damage to Rhodes University properties, vehicles and equipment to Mr Dawie van Dyk: d.vandyk@ru.ac.za

Issued by Communications and Advancement Division

20 October

Academic Activities Update for Students

The last few weeks on campus have been very challenging for everyone and many of you have experienced different levels of anxiety and concern in relation to your experiences and your ability to study.

It has been really important for us to keep the academic programme going for many reasons.  One of these is that many students are hoping to complete their qualifications this year.  Some have jobs waiting, others have plans to move on into postgraduate study. Some students completing professional courses need to do articles or serve internships in 2017.  A failure to complete the academic year would also have had enormous implications for international students whose study visas terminate at the end of November. Finally, an inability to complete would have caused problems at the beginning of 2017 as, literally, there would have been no ‘space’ for new students because existing students were still in the system.

For these reasons, and many more, we have continued with the academic programme.

Earlier this week, at a meeting with Heads of Department and Deans, the decision was taken to proceed with the examination timetable which has been published.  This means that there will be no changes to the dates of examinations on that timetable.  However, simply knowing that the examinations will go ahead is not enough.  There are many other questions which we need to answer for you and the purpose of this letter is to try to do that.  More details that relate to specific courses will be provided by Deans and Departments as appropriate.

Coursework

As you all know, your final mark for a course is made up of course work (your ‘DP requirements’) and the examination mark.  This semester, many students have not been able to meet DP requirements because tests have been disrupted and so on.  The University gave an ‘amnesty’ to all those who have missed handing in assignments or who have not done tests since the protests began on 20 September.  However, what does this mean for our assessment overall?

Students are required to do coursework for two reasons.  The first is that the mark you get for an assignment or test gives you feedback on how well you are doing.  It can indicate that you need to pay particular attention to one area or that you need to work harder more generally.  Students’ marks also tell their lecturers how well the class is doing and whether they need to explain something more thoroughly or differently.   The second reason for coursework is that it allows your lecturers to see whether you can actually do something you need to be able to do to pass the course.  

If you have missed some coursework, you will not have had feedback on how well you are doing in this particular area. However, your lecturers will have been looking for other signs of your progress and will have tried to respond to your needs in many different ways.  Some have posted additional material on RUconnected.  Others have contributed to online forums.  Regardless of the way you have experienced what they have done, please be assured that every member of the academic staff has been concerned for your progress and many hours of discussion about how you can be helped have taken place across the University.

As already noted, second reason for coursework is for your lecturers to be able to check whether or not you can do a specific thing you need to do to pass the course.  A course might require you to demonstrate that you can apply a principle or theory to some practical situation, for example, and, when they assess your work, your lecturers specifically look at whether you can do this.  It is very unlikely that a single test or assignment is the only place they can check something you need to be able to do.  For example, your lecturers can look at other pieces of work (work you submitted in the third term, for example) to check whether or not you can apply principles to practice.  

The point that needs to be emphasised is that all Heads of Department have been discussing how they can ensure that our assessment system continues to be as rigorous as it always has been in spite of the fact that some pieces of work have not been completed.

Examinations

Now to exams. As noted above, we will keep to the examination timetable published on the website:   https://ross.ru.ac.za/ttable/exams.html?listtype=ByDate

Adequate arrangements will be put in place to minimise the impact of any possible disruption of the examinations. Your lecturers will be in touch with you if there are changes to the venue or the form of your examination.

Access to venues will be strictly controlled and only people eligible to take the examination will be allowed inside. This may mean that getting into a venue takes longer than normal. We ask you to bear with us while we check your personal details.  Students are advised to arrive at venues in good time to allow these checks to be completed.

As always members of the academic staff will be available for consultation during the examination period.

Supplementary examinations

In addition to the plans outlined above, a number of concessions have been made with regard to supplementary examinations. 

i)                    For this examination period only, ‘supps’ will be available to any student who sits the November examination and who scores at least 35% as a final mark for the course. Information about how to apply for a ‘supp’ will be provided after the results are released in December.

ii)                  In addition, all fees for supplementary examinations will be waived.

Other support

The Counselling Centre is available to assist anyone who feels anxious over the examination period. Counselling Centre staff offer individual consultations but can also work with groups.

A member of clergy from the Ministers Fraternal group, which represents all Christian denominations, will also be present in the Chapel every lunch time from 13h15 until 14h00 for a time of prayer.  Students and staff can go to the Chapel in order to sit with others to offer their own private prayers or can ask the member of clergy and others present to pray for them. 

If you live in a residence, your warden is also available to offer advice and support.  Staff in the Oppidan Office can also assist if you live off campus by hearing your concerns and referring you to others. 

The end of the academic year is very close now.  It is time to use all the support available to you, keep as calm as possible and focus on your studies.  

Issued by Communications and Advancement Division

19 October 2016

Following disruptions in the kitchens and Main Admin Building yesterday 18 October, the Vice-Chancellor requested four or five student representatives to engage with him in his office. A large group of students entered the building followed by members of the Public Order Policing Unit who arrested one student. In order to diffuse the situation, the Vice-Chancellor accompanied the students to the police station. Engagements between very senior police officials, the Vice-Chancellor and students’ legal representative took place and the reason for the student’s arrest was explained as a violation of his bail conditions. He along with the ten students who were arrested on the evening of 17 October will appear in court today.

Yesterday evening, saw a fire being started in the road outside Nelson Mandela and Lillian Ngoyi Halls. The Police were on the scene and the Emergency Fire Services were called to extinguish the fire. A number of windows across campus were smashed. There was an attempt to set the small building next to the School of Languages Building on fire, the place was doused in petrol but was not set alight. The Fire Department sprayed water to dilute and wash the petrol away. A small stash of petrol bombs was later found on campus.

Academic matters

We appreciate that it has been a difficult period for our students and staff and many people have been upset by events on campus.  In light of this, the DVC’s and the Deans have met with the HODs yesterday afternoon to strategize ways to best assist students with their final academic commitments for 2016.

Lecturers are ready and willing to assist students with catching up and revising work and HoDs are developing frameworks to ensure that no student is penalized because of the impact of disruptions on coursework.  Departments will also consider the way examinations might need to be adapted. 

Any changes to assessment will not impact on standards and all students are encouraged to continue with preparations for exams, as per the scheduled timetable, and to use their time and this opportunity for academic engagement wisely. We are committed to ensuring the success of the academic year.

A more detailed communication about plans for the examination period will be sent to all students, parents and guardians later today.

Issued by Communications and Advancement Division

 

18 October 2016

The evening of Monday 17 October saw extensive disruption on the Rhodes University campus.  In the early evening, protestors attempted to enter the Barratt Lecture Complex with the apparent intention of disrupting a test which was taking place.  Glass doors to the complex were broken in the process.

Protesters then moved to the Library where more glass was broken, before progressing to upper campus where, again, stones and rocks were thrown at windows and entrances. Extensive damage also occurred in the Biko Building, site of the offices of the Division of Student Affairs and the SRC.  Three University service vehicles were overturned at the rear of the building.

Members of the Public Order Policing Unit were present throughout these disruptions. Stun grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas were used to quell disturbances.   A number of arrests were made in the course of the evening.

Protest action eventually ceased at 00h30 on 18 October after which no more disruptions occurred.

Service staff were busy in all affected lecture venues early this morning, Tuesday 18 October, to clean and remove broken glass.  All venues are now ready to be used.

We are extremely grateful to staff who continue to support us in keeping the academic programme running.  The contribution of wardens and other staff who worked throughout the disruptions to calm their students is noted in particular.

The academic programme continues this morning, 18 October.

14 October 2016

Yesterday, Thursday 13 October, a small group of students went around to various dining halls and intimidated and removed staff from their work stations. The Unions requested that staff be allowed to go home to de-escalate the situation until further safety measures had been put in place to ensure that this did not happen again. This was agreed to by the University. 

We would like to clarify that yesterday’s disruptions were not authorised by the unions.  The small number of staff who were present at the Kaif were not involved in any union authorised activity. 

We sincerely apologise to our catering staff who were threatened and disrupted from carrying out their work yesterday. The University reiterates that while we respect the right to legal protest, the intimidation of staff members will not be tolerated.

Students in the residences who had meals booked were given e-wallet payments in the afternoon in order for them to purchase food in town. The SRC are in full support of university operations continuing.

Likewise, both University Unions, NEHAWU and NTEU, are in support of the university operations continuing uninterrupted. We would like to thank the leadership of NEHAWU and NTEU for their commitment and constructive contributions to ensuring the sustainability of the University and the safety of their members.

Issued by Communications and Advancement Division

13 October 2016

As we have previously indicated, from 09h00 on Friday 7 October until approximately 19h30 on Sunday 9 October, stakeholders from all institutional constituencies engaged with protesting students around the 12 demands which had been presented to them.  Agreement was reached with regard to all 12 demands. 

When this agreement had been reached, the facilitators of the dialogue asked protesters directly whether this meant that they were now prepared to allow the academic year to be completed without further disruption.   It was only at this point, that protesting students introduced another demand. This was that the University should close for the entire week from Monday 10 October.

The fact that constituencies sat in discussion with protesting students for three days is an indication of the good faith and commitment that was brought to the process, and of the intention to find a solution to the impasse in which we find ourselves.  As we have previously indicated, our disappointment that yet another demand was placed on the table at such a late hour was profound and, we believe, indicative that protesters had not been acting in good faith through the three long days.

Throughout the discussions, it was made clear that all 12 demands initially made by protesting students were a ‘package’ and that failure to reach agreement on any one of these and a productive way forward would result in agreements to other demands falling away.  When the discussions ended on Sunday evening, therefore, agreements to all 12 demands fell away.

In spite of this, we are acutely aware of the fervent desire of the vast majority of our students to complete the academic year. With this in mind, and in spite of the break down of discussions on Sunday evening, we commit ourselves to honouring the following demands:

DP Academic amnesty

In acknowledgment that all students have been affected by disruptions, no student will be prejudiced for any DP requirement missed since the beginning of protest action on 20 September 2016.  The HoD Forum is working on a framework which will account for any missing DP requirements whilst still ensuring that credits are earned and academic standards are maintained.

Supplementary examination fees

The University has agreed to waive the supplementary examination fee.

Financial exclusions

The University will continue to hold to the promise that no academically deserving student will be excluded for financial reasons. In this context, ‘academically deserving’ is defined as a student who has passed 75% - 100% of the credits for which s/he is registered and is able to proceed to the next level of academic study.

In addition, we commit to allowing any student who has secured funding from a recognized agency specifically for postgraduate study to use that funding to pay tuition fees for the postgraduate qualification rather than to pay off historical debt.

We would also like to draw attention to the fact that all students with financial problems are considered on an individual basis by the Fees Committee.  Deans do not consider financial matters when considering exclusions on academic grounds

The future of this University is also the future of the town in which it is located.  A closure would have profound implications for many inhabitants whose entire families depend on their income from the University. It would also impact on many businesses which would be forced to close thus affecting even more incomes.  We appeal to all students and staff to support us in continuing to keep the academic project going and, thus, to ensuring the future of this University.

Issued by Communications and Advancement Division

10 October 2016

Although Rhodes University has experienced disruptions today, 10 October 2016, our academic programme has continued.

The day began with protesting students entering residences and vandalising property.  Fire alarms were set off and, in some cases, ripped from walls.

Protesters then proceeded to enter lecture venues and strew rubbish across the floors disrupting lectures as they did so.  In ablution facilities, drains were blocked and taps opened in order to flood large areas.  In some cases, staff were harassed and intimidated.

We condemn in the strongest possible terms the disrespect shown to all support staff, and in particular, cleaning staff  who have to clean up as a result of protest action. Intimidation and harassment of staff who are simply trying to do their jobs cannot and will not be tolerated.

The fact that our academic programme has been able to continue and our students have been able to continue with their studies is a result of the dedication and commitment to the academic project shown by staff members. We are sincerely grateful to all who have shown support for this imperative. Continuation of the academic programme is  important for students who desperately want to complete the academic year.  It also has enormous consequences for the wider Grahamstown community because of the relationship of the University to the economic wellbeing of the town and its citizens.

The South African Police Services have been monitoring the situation throughout the day and five students who were interfering with the academic programme were arrested in the course of the morning.

We acknowledge that disruptions affect both staff and students many of whom are traumatised by protest action.  The Counselling Centre is available for any students who are feeling uneasy during these difficult times. The after-hours crisis line number is 082 803 0177. 

Once again, we reiterate that tampering with, vandalizing, damaging or misusing any equipment provided in the interests of health and safety, such as fire alarms and extinguishers, is an offence under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Act 181, 1993) and cannot be tolerated because of the danger it presents to others.   Action will be taken against any person contravening this Act.

The academic programme will continue on Tuesday 11 October.

Issued by Communications and Advancement Division

 

09 October 2016

For the past three days, representatives from Executive and Senior Management, the Middle Management Forum, the Deans’ Forum, the HoD Forum, the two unions, NEHAWU and NTEU, the Hall Wardens and the SRC came together in good faith to meet with the RUFeesmustfall protesting group of students in sessions facilitated by Lieketso Mohoto, Siphokazi Magadla and Khanyisile Melanie Mboya.  In the course of these three days, thirteen demands made by the RUFeesmustfall group were discussed and agreements were reached on all thirteen. 

However, at the very end of the session today, Sunday 9 October, an additional unexpected demand was made by the protesting group. This demand was that the University should suspend the academic programme for the entire week beginning 10 October.  In addition, the RUFeesmustfall group could not give a guarantee that no protest action would continue. 

As we have stated on many occasions, for numerous reasons we believe it is imperative that the academic programme should continue and that students should be allowed to complete the academic year.

In the context of the additional demand and breakdown in discussions, all agreements made in the course of the past three days now fall away.

We offer our sincere thanks to the facilitators of all the discussions which have taken place since protests began.  These individuals have given many days of their time and have expended enormous energy in trying to ensure that agreements could be reached. We express our profound disappointment that this has not been possible.

The academic programme will continue on Monday 10 October 2016.

Issued by Communications and Advancement Division

 

06 October 2016

This morning, 06 October 2016, classes are proceeding although some venues invaded by protesters yesterday cannot be used as they are still full of dust resulting from the release of fire extinguishers. This dust is corrosive and toxic and presents a danger to the workers who must remove it.  As a result, great care must be taken with cleaning up.  We apologise to students and staff whose classes cannot proceed because of the need to deal with a health hazard.  We also apologise to our cleaning staff who have to deal with the outcome of irresponsible behaviour.

Tampering with, vandalizing, damaging or misusing any equipment provided in the interests of health and safety, such as fire alarms and extinguishers, is an offence under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (Act 181, 1993) and cannot be tolerated because of the danger it presents to others.   Action will be taken against any person contravening this Act.

In seeking to maintain the academic programme, we are very concerned about international students many of whom have visas which expire on 30 November 2016. If the academic year is extended beyond this date, then these international students will be forced to return home before some of their examinations have finished. This will have devastating effects for them given the cost of studying outside their home countries and the difficulties involved in securing study visas in the first place.

Some international students have complained of what they have experienced as xenophobic attacks directed at them. We wish to reiterate our University’s position that there is no place for xenophobia or any other form of bigotry, prejudice, intolerance, chauvinistic or discriminatory behaviour at Rhodes.  All students, including international students and staff, deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. The presence of international students and staff creates an intellectually, socially and culturally rich environment at Rhodes and we value the diversity, different perspectives and different lived experiences brought by all our students and staff into our academic project.

Issued by Communications and Advancement Division.

Source:Communications