Wits stu­dents in protest over res

The Star Late Edition - - NEWS - NOKUTHULA ZWANE AND MASABATA MKWANANZI

WITS stu­dents of the Yale Vil­lage Res­i­dence be­gan protest­ing yes­ter­day due to claims of un­ful­filled prom­ises made by the univer­sity – but it seemed to be un­aware of their griev­ances.

Stu­dents were moved from their orig­i­nal res­i­dences, Park­town Vil­lage (PKV) and Es­se­len, which were of­fi­cially shut down ear­lier this year. Stu­dents claim they were moved to more ex­pen­sive res­i­dences, Ren­nie House in Braam­fontein and Yale Vil­lage on Em­pire Road.

Sa­belo Ngubeni, Yale Vil­lage House com­mit­tee chair­per­son, ral­lied stu­dents in front of the Em­pire Road univer­sity gates yes­ter­day morn­ing, say­ing: “It can­not be that this univer­sity is gov­ern­able whereas we have is­sues like these. It can­not be that the (Res­i­dence Life board) comes here to grand­stand and say they do not know our is­sues. The chair­man of ARC (All Res­i­dence Coun­cil) is here and he knows our is­sues.

“It can­not be that in this in­sti­tu­tion that claims pres­tige, claims to be No 1 in Africa and in the world, does such things to stu­dents.”

Stu­dents’ de­mands cen­tred on main­te­nance is­sues, in­clud­ing:

● Un­capped wi-fi.

● In­creased se­cu­rity.

● A con­ve­nient bus sched­ule that op­er­ates hourly from 6am to mid­night.

● The pro­vi­sion of tem­po­rary wi-fi in the in­terim, as the com­pany Re­spub­lica promised.

● Visiting hours that op­er­ate as per univer­sity of the Wit­wa­ter­srand Res­i­dence Life and reg­u­la­tions.

● The re­moval of the Re­spub­lica fa­cil­i­ties man­ager: only Wits Univer­sity staff should ad­min­is­trate the res­i­dence.

● Con­sis­tency in main­tain­ing and ser­vic­ing lifts and laun­dry ma­chines, and man­ag­ing other main­te­nance prob­lems.

The stu­dents burnt tyres and cones block­ing the en­trance to the Yale Road North en­trance to the univer­sity.

“Stu­dents are protest­ing on a num­ber of is­sues, in­clud­ing wifi ac­cess in their res­i­dence, they want a reg­u­lar bus ser­vice from the res­i­dence to the en­trance of the univer­sity which is about 400m, and the third thing is that they want more clean­ing ser­vices,” said Rob Shar­man, di­rec­tor of Cam­pus Hous­ing and Res­i­dence Life.

“These is­sues have not been raised with me by the house com­mit­tee for the last three or four weeks. But it seems frus­tra­tion had built up and the stu­dents de­cided to act this morn­ing, in or­der to draw their con­cerns to the at­ten­tion of man­age­ment,” Shar­man told The Star.

“The clean­ing ser­vices are pro­vided by the land­lords, from whom we are leas­ing the premises,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to clean­ers who spoke to The Star, there were only four of them cater­ing for 320 stu­dents each day. They had to clean all the premises and as a re­sult some of the du­ties were not met be­cause they were short-staffed.”

One of the clean­ers said the res was un­der­staffed and there were lots of rooms that should be cleaned, but most of the times they were not able to clean all of them.

Ngubeni added that he had paid R52 250 for a room and it had never been cleaned since he moved in back in Jan­uary.

“We have an out­break of a lot of fe­males hav­ing blad­der in­fec­tions be­cause they are us­ing dirty toi­lets and dirty show­ers. And we do not have a bus to take us to cam­pus at night and most of the ladies com­plain about sex­ual ha­rass­ment,” said Ngubeni.

A me­moran­dum of de­mands was drawn up and was later signed by the Dean of Stu­dents and the di­rec­tor of Cam­pus Hous­ing and Res­i­dence Life. By 1pm, the crowd had dis­persed.

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