UCT ready to thwart un­rest

Cape Times - - WORLD NEWS - Lisa Isaacs and Do­minic Adri­aanse lisa.isaac@inl.co.za do­minic.adri­aanse@inl.co.za

UCT stu­dents have been ad­vised to ar­rive an hour be­fore their ex­ams start to get through strin­gent se­cu­rity checks as the in­sti­tu­tion com­mences with ex­ams today.

Univer­sity man­age­ment has ar­ranged an ex­am­i­na­tion venue on the up­per cam­pus rugby field in the form of a mar­quee.

The in­te­rior of the mar­quee is di­vided into spa­ces that du­pli­cate the ca­pac­ity of the venue names as listed on the ex­am­i­na­tion timetable.

In a cam­pus an­nounce­ment, Reg­is­trar Roys­ton Pillay said in the in­ter­est of safety for all UCT staff and stu­dents, ac­cess to the ex­am­i­na­tion cen­tre will be strictly con­trolled.

Ac­cess rights to the spe­cific ex­am­i­na­tion venues will be checked. Stu­dents must have their stu­dent cards avail­able at all times. They are ad­vised to bring only the es­sen­tial items needed for the ex­am­i­na­tion, and strongly ad­vised not to bring bags.

“If you do bring bags, please note that these will be checked by safety per­son­nel in the perime­ter area out­side the ac­cess points to the ex­am­i­na­tion cen­tre,” he said.

Given the ac­cess pro­ce­dures, stu­dents have been ad­vised to ar­rive at the venue 60 min­utes be­fore the of­fi­cial start time.

He said ex­am­i­na­tion in­vig­i­la­tors have been ad­vised of the safety steps they should take in the event of any ir­reg­u­lar ac­tiv­ity inside an ex­am­i­na­tion venue.

“It is recog­nised that these pro­ce­dures may well cause in­con­ve­nience, but they are deemed nec­es­sary at this time and your pa­tience is re­quested. UCT’s Cam­pus Pro­tec­tion Ser­vices will be sup­ported by the SAPS and by PSIRA-ac­cred­ited pri­vate se­cu­rity,” Pillay said.

Stu­dent ac­tivist Si­mon Rakei said the last ac­tion in re­cent mem­ory which dis­played such an “ag­gres­sive and iron-handed se­cu­ri­ti­sa­tion” at a univer­sity cam­pus, and which was jus­ti­fied as be­ing nec­es­sary and un­avoid­able for the com­ple­tion of the aca­demic year, was one that took place at Wits univer­sity.

Prior to mil­i­taris­ing the cam­pus a poll had been con­ducted to “gauge” the di­rec­tion to take. Through the poll, which Rakei said forced stu­dents to choose be­tween supporting #FeesMustFall and the com­ple­tion of the aca­demic year, the Wits ex­ec­u­tive said it could jus­tify its heavy-hand­ed­ness un­der the guise of act­ing in the in­ter­ests of the pop­u­lar vote and sen­ti­ment on cam­pus.

“In com­par­i­son to UCT, the univer­sity ex­ec­u­tive didn’t even at­tempt to force stu­dents into such a false co­nun­drum, which is a dras­tic shift in ap­proach as they have or­di­nar­ily de­monised and car­i­ca­tured protest­ing stu­dents at ev­ery avail­able turn.

“Even by the univer­sity’s own stan­dards the poll to im­ple­ment the se­cu­ri­ti­sa­tion we are see­ing would have been un­favourable. The con­struc­tion of the tent and exam venue was im­pres­sively un­der­handed, as such that when peo­ple saw the site for the first time they were shocked.”

Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity spokesper­son Martin Viljoen said there were two exam win­dows, the first end­ing today and the sec­ond start­ing to­mor­row and fin­ish­ing on De­cem­ber 2.

“So far we have not ex­pe­ri­enced any prob­lems, but the nor­mal se­cu­rity mea­sures are still in place. And then we of course also look for­ward to the grad­u­a­tion cer­e­monies that take place in the week of De­cem­ber 4-8. We re­main con­cerned about the safety of our stu­dents – es­pe­cially now that stu­dents are leav­ing the cam­pus (the Stel­len­bosch cam­pus be­ing an open cam­pus),” he said.

Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity en­cour­ages its stu­dents and staff to be vig­i­lant, es­pe­cially at night said Viljoen.

The Univer­sity of the Western Cape (UWC) spokesper­son Luthando Ty­hal­i­bongo said the univer­sity was mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion on cam­pus.

“The new SRC (stu­dent rep­re­sen­ta­tive coun­cil) sworn in last week has com­mu­ni­cated its in­ten­tion to protest dur­ing the ex­ams that are set to be­gin on Novem­ber 20. Univer­sity man­age­ment ac­knowl­edges the right of stu­dents to protest in a peace­ful man­ner but has mea­sures in place that will be im­ple­mented de­pend­ing on the type of protest,” he said.

Pic­ture: David Ritchie/ANA

PRO­TECTED: The Univer­sity of Cape Town has erected sev­eral large tents on its rugby fields for stu­dents to write year-end ex­ams. Se­cu­rity fenc­ing, guards in riot gear and dogs are be­ing used to pro­tect the tented exam venues.

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