MARKO SVICEVIC UP’s Department of Facilities Management, in collaboration with UP’s Department of Residence Affairs and Accommoda...Read more
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”.
The Department of Trade and Industry has proposed to amend the National Liquor Act by increasing the Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA) to 21. Currently, the legal drinking age in South Africa is 18.
Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, gave reasons for this decision in a press briefing at Parliament in October 2016: “The first [reason] is that it is a physiological argument, which is saying there is evidence that the brain does not fully develop until the mid-twenties in fact, and that when the brain is not yet fully developed, the impact on the brain of alcohol abuse is much more severe than it is on the fully developed brain…”. Davies said that the consequences of alcohol abuse have decreased in countries where the drinking age was increased. Davies also said that South Africa has one of the highest incidences of FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) in the world with approximately 1 million people being affected, and that another 5 million people have sustained damage due to excessive alcohol consumption.
The Department of Higher Education and Training has recently received a support grant from the European Union, a portion of which is being used to fund the University of Pretoria.
The R9 952 000 grant allocated to UP will be used by the Faculty of Education’s Department of Educational Psychology, to launch a Centre for Visual Impairment Studies, which they will use to develop a teaching qualification specifically for students who are visually impaired. The Head of the Department of Educational Psychology, Professor Ronél Ferreira, will lead the project and will be supported by Dr Maximus Sefotho, a lecturer in the education department. Dr Ruth Mampane of the Department of Educational Psychology, Maria Ramaahlo from UP’s Disability Unit, and Professor Juan Bornman. who is the director of the Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication will also be assisting with the project. The programme will be established in association with stakeholders such as NGOs and community-based organisations that have knowledge of visual impairment.
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
On 13 February, UP Fees Must Fall activists and Economic Freedom Fighters UP (EFFSCUP) 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" are prioritized over the ones that really need [accommodation]”. According to former SRC president, Mosibudi “Rassie” Rasethaba, at about 9pm UP’s security guards begun removing students from campus. “Note that these students were refused places in University owned residences and can not afford private residence. Campus was their only safe space for tonight,” said Rasethaba in a Facebook post.
The Facebook event is set to end on 20 February at 8pm and advocates for “[holding] management accountable on the commitments to dealing with this crisis as it has been ongoing for several years” as “have been numerous engagements with the management of the University on this issue but to no avail”.