WSU students told to vacate campus

2013-08-27 14:58

Walter Sisulu University (WSU) administrator Professor Lourens van Staden has given the Eastern Cape institution’s over 21 000 students until 12pm tomorrow to vacate all campuses and residences of the university.

This comes after six weeks of protests by lecturers and support staff, who are demanding an 8% to 10% salary increase, while the university is standing firm on its 4.25% offer.

The deadlock between WSU management and employees has seen students protesting since last week, demanding to return to class and be taught.

Over the last few days, police had to use rubber bullets to disperse thousands of students who have vowed to make the province ungovernable until they are allowed back in class.

In a communiqué distributed among students today, Van Staden, who was appointed by Higher Education Minister Dr Blade Nzimande in 2011 to bring stability to the beleaguered institution, said: “The university does not want to keep students waiting on campus indefinitely.

“The volatile situation that is unfolding has made it impossible for management to risk or to guarantee the safety and wellbeing of our students and the communities in which they live. We therefore regret to announce that all students are to vacate university premises, residences and university-rented accommodation with immediate effect.”

Van Staden’s ultimatum comes as students living in the university-rented flats in Southernwood in East London caused havoc last week and yesterday.

They disrupted traffic, littered streets and vandalised property.

“Students must be off all university premises at the four campuses by 12 noon on Wednesday 28 August 2013,” Van Staden said.

He said management was exploring alternative solutions to the ongoing labour strike and that sending the students home did not mean all was lost in the academic year.

“All efforts will be made to put alternative arrangements in place in order to complete this second semester. Students will be recalled by official communiqué as soon as it is possible to do so,” said Van Staden, the former deputy vice-chancellor at the Tshwane University of Technology, whose two-year contract ends in October.

Yesterday, Ngobe Lali, the SRC president at WSU, said students will meet today to discuss the way forward and to decide on whether to accept Van Staden’s ultimatum.

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