321 students will be admitted at Wits after 12-hour SRC sit-in
Wits University and its student representative council (SRC) have agreed to help disenfranchised students in a "once off" deal reached after a marathon sit-in at at the main campus on Monday.
Since the start of the year, around 321 students have not been able to register due to historical debt, academic exclusion and difficulty securing funding. Many of them turned to the SRC for help.
Student leaders recently staged a sit-in on the 11th floor of the admin building in a bid to help affected students.
The Wits SRC Twitter account released an official statement listing their demands on Monday. They wanted an increase in the hardship fund, accommodation to be provided to homeless students and better communication about the hardship fund.
After 12 hours of occupying the 11th Floor, being stink bombed and being told the VC was out of the country and suddenly having him appear out of nowhere. Your @Wits_SRC has once again delivered and students will be allowed to register. #WitsIsMine #StudentsMustRegister https://t.co/hkgY7GrbKz— Wits PYA (@WitsPYA) February 10, 2020
The hardship fund, according to the Wits website, seeks to aid students with debt of more than R10,000 by allowing them to register and receive accommodation.
During the sit-in the 11th floor was filled to capacity. Security downstairs would not let anyone else up to the floor. After around 12 hours, the SRC and management reached an agreement.
Wits SRC secretary-general Katie Morgets said that after a long meeting, the SRC demands had been met.
“We sat there for 12 hours, and we told ourselves not to retreat or surrender. We had all our demands met.”
After a long day fighting for what is right for students. We fought a good fight ✊. The Wits SRC (@Wits_SRC) will release an official statement today— Lucy Khofi?? (@PearlKhofi) February 10, 2020
WE CAN NOW CARRY ON WITH OUR DUTIES ???.
Earlier check in #Past3amSquad @past3amsquad pic.twitter.com/0j2yS8hXFs
Students have been struggling through the past month to clear debt, secure funding and find accommodation. Some have nowhere to live.
One student, who wished to remain anonymous, registered successfully but could not find accommodation. She claimed a rule put in place by the university, allowing 50% of the residence rooms to be allocated to first-year students, left her couch surfing.
“Students aren’t able to come back to res because most rooms are for first-year students”.
However, according to Wits University, there are empty spaces in seven of their 13 residences.
Wits said in a statement that 321 students had been allowed readmission to the university after the agreement was reached. A sum of R2m from both the university and SRC would be allocated to the hardship fund.
“This has been a difficult process, but all parties believe this will serve as a framework which will enable the parties to focus on the business of teaching and learning. The SRC and management will engage in the broader systemic issues, both constructively and in the best interests of all stakeholders.”
"This is a once-off arrangement and will not set a precedent," the university said.