Students plan lecture strike

2008-03-16 00:00

Disruptions to academic activities are expected today on the Pietermaritzburg campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal as students resume their protest over the lack of accommodation at the institution.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, Mlu Manana, a member of the Students’ Representative Council, said students will boycott classes and "ensure that no academic process" takes place.

The protest was suspended four weeks ago following an agreement between the students’ representatives and management.

Manana said the university’s management has reneged on its promise to find alternative accommodation for some 400 students on the housing waiting list.

"They had promised to provide alternative accommodation within two weeks from February 18, when the strike was called off. Nothing has happened so far and therefore we have no other option but to resume the protest," he said.

Manana said the student body submitted proposals to the management on possible solutions to alleviate the accommodation problem.

These include the lease of accommodation at the Durban University of Technology’s Indumiso campus.

"The response we got from the management was that there was no accommodation available at Indumiso campus. However, we know that accommodation is indeed available [there]."

He said another proposal, the provision of mobile homes, was deemed "too expensive" by management.

The SRC says the accommodation crisis is due to lack of proper planning on the part of management.

"UKZN registers about 8 000 students per year, but can only house about 1 700 of those. Surely there is a problem there," Manana said.

He said other campuses, including Howard and Edgewood, are not immune to the problem either.

The SRC said it hopes the protests will be peaceful but effective.

"We do not want any rubber bullets flying around and we certainly do not want any damage to infrastructure," Manana said.

When contacted for comment last night, UKZN spokesman Professor Dasrath Chetty said he was surprised by the latest developments.

"As far as I know, the university has made every possible attempt to provide accommodation for students on the waiting list," he said.

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