Release Date: 04 October, 2016
UPDATE FROM THE SENIOR EXECUTIVE TEAM - 04.10.16 (22:00)
Dear Colleagues and Students
We regret that you might have first heard the contents of this communique through other forums. We were in the middle of negotiations which were initiated at the behest of former leaders of the Black Student Society and SRCs, supported by clergy. The agreement was subject to further consultations and had not yet been formally decided. The pre-emptive release of some of the terms of the agreement was an irresponsible breech.
We recognise that we sent you a communique earlier today telling you that the University would be open tomorrow. However, during this evening’s negotiations with former leaders of the Black Student Society and SRCs, supported by clergy, we agreed to mediated negotiations between student groups, university management and other role players.
To enable this process to continue, we have agreed to suspend the academic programme with a common objective to resume it in full on Monday, 10 October 2016.
We have made this concession because we do not want the scenes that played out on our University campuses today, to be repeated. Such scenes put our students and staff on edge and do not enable a full resumption of the academic programme. If a negotiated outcome can achieve this end, then we will be all the stronger as a University community. The student constituency is as committed as we are to salvaging the 2016 academic year.
We have agreed to withdraw the police to the perimeter of the University’s campuses under the express commitment from all parties that there will be no violence or intimidation of students and staff.
For the remainder of this week, former leaders of the Black Student Society and SRCs, supported by clergy, will facilitate and mediate a process of consensus building between student groups, university management and other role players with a view towards having a General Assembly on Friday, 7 October 2016. Such an Assembly would be chaired by the Chancellor and would focus on a consensual position on the principle of full access to higher education.
We understand that some individuals may not be entirely happy about this decision, but we truly believe that if we can get a negotiated outcome, it will be in the broader interests of all stakeholders and saving the 2016 academic year.
Senior Executive Team
University of the Witwatersrand
4 October 2016 (22:00)