University to take action against disruptive students

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Johannesburg - Witwatersrand University management have said they will take swift disciplinary action against those who disrupt lectures.

"The disruption of classes is inimical to the values of the university and will not be tolerated. The university will take swift disciplinary action against any person who contravenes the university's code of conduct," Wits Vice-Chancellor Professor Loyiso Nongxa said in a statement late on Tuesday.

Hundreds of students protested outside the university on Tuesday, bursting into lecture halls and disrupting classes, tipping over bins and blockading the campus entrance.

The students are opposed to the increase the university's fees for next year which average at between 9 and 9.5 percent, with the MBA being an exception. It is proposed that fees for this course will increase by 15percent. Residence fees are likely to increase by 11.8 percent.

Professor Nongxa condemned the behaviour, saying it violated the rights of students who wanted to be taught.

"As an educational institution we regard our academic activities as sacrosanct and while we recognise the right to a peaceful protest, the rights of those who wish to continue to attend classes and university activities must be respected.

"We should learn how to disagree in a way that respects differences and does not violate the rights of others who hold different views," said Nongxa.

The university said it remained committed to open discussions and engagement on the impact of increases on the student body.

The Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), which is made up of the South African Students Congress (SASCO), the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) and the Young Communist League, handed over a memorandum of grievances to Vice-Principal at the university, Professor Yunus Ballim.