Letter | NMU protests never ‘peaceful’

NMU students march to the City Hall on Friday to present a list of their demands to the mayor following a two-day shutdown of the university by protesting students last week
NMU students march to the City Hall on Friday to present a list of their demands to the mayor following a two-day shutdown of the university by protesting students last week
Image: Fredlin Adriaan

Nelson Mandela University management is good at decrying criminal behaviour but does next to nothing to actually prevent it. As the analogy goes, they have an impressive bark but zero bite.

For four years now, whenever protests have occurred, they have not once been conducted in a peaceful manner.

The protesters always claim that the reasons for their protesting outshines the rights of non-protesting students.

Every time protest action starts up, the university management does a good job sending out e-mails stating that they respect the rights of students to protest peacefully in a manner that does not infringe upon non-protesting students.

Despite this, entrances are barricaded with burning obstacles to disrupt academic and business operations, property is damaged (especially during the 2016 protests), while students and staff are intimidated and have their rights ultimately violated.

It would be unfair to lay all the blame with the management. They do engage with the protesting groups to try to find a consensus that accommodates their demands and sees the continuation of academic activities.

They can do little about the fact that the “leaders” of the protesting groups are good at shifting the goalposts.

The arrogance with which the protesters claim to be running things also doesn’t help the NMU management.

But surely, after three years of previous non-peaceful protests, plans should be in place?

Where are the contingency plans for the thousands of students who spent the long weekend studying for tests or working on assignments?

Maybe the interdict that keeps getting harped on about should be acted upon rather than just being used as a bluff.

It is not viable to simply wait for protesting to blow over and then go back to business as normal, as has been evidenced in previous incidents.

Each year, NMU strays further away from being a beacon for higher education and reasoned debate, and closer towards a place where aggrieved parties run amok whenever they feel inclined. Hopefully soon-to-be-former NMU

Student, Port Elizabeth

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