Cape Town - The UCT Student Representative Council (SRC) protested at the weekend over a lack of student accommodation due to fee blocks and other related issues.
The SRC said it condemned the ongoing housing crisis “where thousands of returning and first-year students are being left in the cold without food or a roof over their heads”.
“We further note the blatant ignorance and disregard the university has for its students,” it said.
The SRC called on all students to take part in the protest at Upper Campus from as early as 6am on Saturday to “make that campus our home”.
“Come in your pyjamas, bring a blanket and may the realities of being black and poor in the ‘top university in Africa’ be exposed.”
SRC president Hlengiwe Dube said more than 1 400 students were impacted.
According to the SRC, students were issued with withdrawals of residence notices due to outstanding fees and that the Student Housing
Department and Vacation Accommodation Department had issued notices to vacate the premises on January 25.
Annually, UCT makes available accommodation in December and January to students for a number of reasons, including to students writing deferred exams.
Students would need to vacate the premises by a specific date for the process of allocating rooms to new and returning students. Students who owed fees and were in residences were told to vacate their rooms.
“The SRC attempted to disrupt (in a form of peaceful protest) the orientation programme of speeches by informing everyone of the names of a few of our unhoused colleagues. Along with other student leaders, we also closed off the main entry to the campus with placards expressing our need for accommodation.
“By the evening, student leaders had assisted in rallying funding and logistical support such as transport to ensure students (particularly first years) found a safe place to sleep,” the SRC said.
UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said the UCT executive was engaging with the SRC with the intention of finding a resolution to the issues raised, which included fee blocks and accommodation issues.
“A group of protesters blocked two vehicular entrances to Upper Campus ahead of the commencement of the UCT parents’ orientation programme. The university made alternative arrangements to ensure that parents, students, staff and other stakeholders could access Upper Campus.”
Moholola said students who had not received residence offers were being assisted with securing off-campus housing through UCT’s Off-Campus Student Accommodation Services.
Meanwhile, an anticipated three-day strike by UCT academics, part of the UCT Academics’ Union (AU) over a 3% wage offer for 2023 has been called off.
AU salary bargaining team leader Kelley Moult confirmed that the AU settled with the university on Friday.