The university where I work is in crisis. Campuses across South Africa are on fire — in some cases literally — as students protesting impossibly high fees lock horns with reckless police officers. Students run a gantlet of rubber bullets, water cannons, stun grenades and tear gas just to make it to the library. Attendance has been sparse, with students, lecturers and other employees staying home in fear. Some universities have turned to overzealous police officers and the infamous private security industry in a bid to bring campuses under control.
Meanwhile protesters have become ever more attached to the uncompromising politics of shutdown, insisting that universities must stay closed until their demands are met.… Seguir leyendo »
Last Wednesday, I arrived at the University of the Witwatersrand, where I work, and couldn’t get inside. Some major entrances to the campus in the center of Johannesburg were locked. Others had been barricaded by students. The university had expected a docile, two-hour protest; instead, a week before exams, the campus was shut down by a crowd of 2,000. It’s been closed ever since.
Students at Wits, as it’s known locally, are protesting because the poor are being priced out of higher education. For many of them, getting into a university is a triumph; but staying there is a miracle.
Neither universities nor the government are doing nearly enough to help poor (which generally means black) students survive and graduate.… Seguir leyendo »