UKZN students slam decision to close university residences by November 30

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 UKZN Pietermaritzburg campus.
UKZN Pietermaritzburg campus.
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Student leadership at the University of KwaZulu-Natal have vowed to challenge the decision by the institution to require them to vacate residences by November 30.

This follows messages doing the rounds on social media over the past week, advising students that university residences would be closed. The messages have raised concerns among students who are worried because many are expected to write certain assessments, even in December.

In a statement, the EFF student command in the Westville branch said the messages had also reached their attention.

The student organisation assured students that no one would be forced to leave their residences come the end of the month as long as they were students who still had academic commitments.

“We are aware that even during the month of December, there are students who will still be engaging in academic assessments, hence the decision by the institution is illogical and ill-advised,” said EFF branch chairperson, Mqondisi Mthembu.

According to students, their studies would be negatively impacted if they were forced to go home to complete their assessment due to bad network connections and resources.

Newly-elected Student Representative Council (SRC) chairperson at UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus, Siyabonga Mlondo, said they were ready to fight, tooth and nail, to ensure that students can remain in residences until they finish their academic assessments. Mlondo said student leadership would be meeting with the university management on Friday to discuss the issue.

“We don’t know and don’t understand what is happening this year and according to our views, we are supposed to be closing on December 23, after students receive their allowance. Students must not suffer just because the university wants to squeeze the academic year.”
SRC chairperson Siyabonga Mlondo

“The academic year is supposed to be 10 full months, and students came to the university in April. If you can count that, it’s less than 10 months. The university is trying by all means to squeeze our academic calendar to their benefit and that is something we will not let happen,” he said.

He added that many students had come forward and urged the student leadership to engage management to extend the closing date of residences.

Mlondo said during the 2020 academic year, the university allowed students to stay in the residences until December 20.

“We don’t know and don’t understand what is happening this year and according to our views, we are supposed to be closing on December 23, after students receive their allowance. Students must not suffer just because the university wants to squeeze the academic year,” Mlondo said.

Normah Zondo, UKZN executive director of corporate relations, said students who have completed their academic obligations were expected to vacate the student residences at the end of the semester.

“This year is no exception,” said Zondo.

“All students who have extended academic commitments are expected to report to the Department of Student Residences Affairs (DSRA) offices on their respective campuses between Monday, November 8 and Friday, November 19, to sign an extended stay form.”
Normah Zondo, UKZN executive director of corporate relations

She said the vast majority of students at the residences are studying online and would complete the academic year on Friday, November 26, when lectures end and all continuous assessment opportunities are completed.

Zondo confirmed that residence students were expected to vacate their residences by no later than 10 am on Tuesday, November 30. She said this was for all university-managed residences both on- and off-campus, including leased residences.

“All students who have extended academic commitments are expected to report to the Department of Student Residences Affairs (DSRA) offices on their respective campuses between Monday, November 8 and Friday, November 19, to sign an extended stay form.

“For verification purposes, they will be required to show proof of additional academic commitments from their respective schools, together with a valid student card,” she said.

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