MARKO SVICEVIC UP’s Department of Facilities Management, in collaboration with UP’s Department of Residence Affairs and Accommoda...Read more
On 22 June 2016, UP’s Council, the highest decision making body at UP, adopted a new language policy in which English was to be the only language of tuition.
On 15 December 2016, the Gauteng High Court rejected an application by civil rights group AfriForum to continue the use of Afrikaans at UP. In its case, AfriForum argued that the removal of Afrikaans, based on language, was discriminatory, constituted a withdrawal of existing student rights, and that removing Afrikaans at UP did not comply with section 29(2) of the Constitution. Judge Kollapen was not convinced of this argument, however, affirming UP’s decision to drop Afrikaans. According to UP, a key factor in removing Afrikaans was that “a preference for Afrikaans as a medium of instruction [had] fallen from around 88% in 1990 to just under 16% in 2016”. Remarking on the language policy change, UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal Prof. Cheryl de la Rey said in a statement, “As society changes we need to do what is best for our students and the greater community as a whole [and] this new policy will facilitate social cohesion and promote inclusivity.”
DITEBOGO TSHAKA, POOJA PUNDIT AND MARKO SVICEVIC
On 13 February, UP Fees Must Fall activists and Economic Freedom Fighters UP (EFFSC UP) members held a campus sleep-in against the lack of access to affordable accommodation and residence placement for students who come from “outside of Gauteng” and are mostly from “poor areas”.
The event was held in the Student Centre on the Hatfield campus and “[called] on students of the University of Pretoria to stand in solidarity with our fellow students who are sleeping on the streets, in toilets, libraries and benches across campuses”. The movement held that “most students who have been placed in newly-built private residences in Hatfield are facing a situation where their monthly rent far exceeds the NSFAS pay-out and the University residences are no different as residences fees have gone up by over R10 000.00”. The movement used the hashtag #UPResCrisis and within hours it was a trending topic on Twitter. One Twitter user said, “…rich, white students [who] stay around the University go to res just for the “culture” [and] are prioritized over the ones that really need [accommodation]”.
Starting this year, UP will be implementing a new access control system to ensure stricter access control to UP campuses.
UP spokesperson Candice Jooste confirmed to Perdeby that UP had taken the decision and was in the process of ensuring its implementation. “We are in the process of implementing a new access control system with dual verification, making use of a new smart card technology [and] the new smart card will ensure that only the authorised card holder may enter the UP premises,” said Jooste. She added that biometric verification in conjunction with the smart card will provide a safer environment by allowing only authorised card-holders entry. Jooste said that “UP will do everything within its control to ensure the 2017 academic year proceeds as planned and without any disruption,” adding that UP “will work closely with students, staff, campus security and if necessary, the Police to protect the academic project”.
On 16 February, UP in collaboration with the TSC, released a statement to students addressing issues of accommodation on campus. The statement followed a three day sleep-in event created by the Fees Must Fall group in which issues of a lack of affordable accommodation for students was highlighted. According to the statement, the TSC through UP is able to assist students who have applied for accommodation but have not as yet been placed. The statement further explained that, “The accommodation includes places in UP residences that become available on a continuous basis or places at accredited accommodation providers.” It further said that accommodation offered to students at such a late stage may not necessarily be their first choice.
Following UP’s commencement of the academic year on 6 February, new security measures were implemented on all UP campuses to ensure that the academic year started off as smoothly as possible.
Extra security guards were deployed at all entrances to UP campuses. These guards were equipped with scanners to scan students’ student cards, identification documents