#FeesMustFall: In defense of my fellow TUT students

FeesMustFall. Pic by gabby-mathibe

Being a product of Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) has earned me a few unpleasant names, especially because I studied at the Soshanguve campus.

A hooligan, a thug, a ruffian were some of the names spat in my face when having to rep my campus name while protesting at the Union Buildings with a number of Wits students. Although, I do not think it is okay to destroy property in order to make a point.

But I felt hurt when I saw that even though my fellow TUT students marched in solidarity with the rest of the #FeesMustFall it still did not help them escape the name calling especially on Twitter by well-known celebrities such as DJ Moflava tweeting “Every student, of all races and backgrounds behaved, all except some lunatics from TUT Sosha. It needs to be clear! #FeesHaveFallen.”

It’s so easy for non-TUT students to start judging TUT without having all the facts and realising that they don’t know our struggles.

TUT students know when it’s time to lead, we know exactly why we were at the Union Buildings and that wasn’t to make friends with other universities – we wanted answers from a president who refused to even come outside and address us.

Students in the frontline destroyed parts of the fence with their bare hands, concrete falling apart because of them and made fire in-order to torch the plastic toilets, other young people – at the protest and on social media – did their best to distance themselves from us.

WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT WITS, UCT AND STELLENBOSCH?

TUT students had been protesting two weeks prior to the #WitsMustFall but you wouldn’t know that because there was no convenient hashtags.

It was Soshanguve students wanting to know when issues around fee increases, NSFAS, inadequate security on campus, busses, stale cafeteria food and underdeveloped infrastructure would be sorted.

There were no convenient hashtags or journalists from all over the country live-tweeting from our campus, about our campus and our struggles. There were no celebrities coming in to support our grievances.

The only time the ‘biggest’ media houses are interested in TUT Soshanguve is when we are being violent.

I was annoyed that the only time our cries were heard was when universities like Wits, UCT and Stellenbosch started protesting over fees.

This got me asking what is so special about them? Are we not important enough in the ‘governments’ eyes to be heard on our own without support from Wits, Stellebosch and UCT?

WHAT IS IT REALLY LIKE AT THE TUT SOSHANGUVE CAMPUS?

After the protests, everyone went back to their luxurious universities and we went back to our campus.

Our campus in Soshanguve is the kind of place where the male residence has no security guard at the entrance; where it’s not safe anymore to walk from the library to your res at night without someone trying to attack; where the cafeteria food is stale; where there are never enough books for all of us; where you have to squeeze yourself into the campus bus because if it leaves you behind, you will have to wait for an hour for the next one; where we pace up and down trying to find a proper Lab with sufficient computers that are in good enough condition to be used for school work.

No one knows our struggles but it’s so easy for ‘randoms’ to always have something to say about us.

I AM PROUD OF BEING A TUT SOSHANGUVE STUDENT

I am proud to be a TUT student because even with the name calling, even with the everyday struggles we face, our lecturers try to do the best they could with the little they have to make sure we get good results.

Follow Natasha on Twitter

Photo by Goabaona Mathibe

Published on LiveMagSA

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#FeesMustFall: Wits management agrees to halt fee hikes after a week of protests

 

wits-strike-oct-2015-12

The hashtags changed from #WitsFeesMustFall to #WitsFeesWillFall and after a week of sustained protesting, the Wits university management heard the students cries and fee hikes were halted.

The Wits council announced in a statement today that they had not only agreed to halt the proposed 10.5% fee increase but that students on NFSAS and those who are stretched financially will also get a discount. The vice chancellor Adam Habib also agreed that he will forfeit any performance bonus that is due to him and the money will instead be used to help give deserving students access to the university.

The streets around the Wits campus in Braamfontein were alive with students chanting and protesting, with some vowing to continue with their protest action. Some students took the decision by Habib not to show up on campus today as a sign of disrespect.

“It’s painful knowing that my parents sacrificed a lot for me to come study here and then the chancellor [Habib] disrespects us by not showing up,” said Nokwanda Motsitsi, 20, a second year year BA student.

Another student, Aphelele Mkhize, 20, a second year accounting student said, ‘When we do get these free increments lowered, we are all going to reap what we sowed.” She said that although it was unfair that they would miss so much in terms of academics, there was no way that they could go home and sleep, all students needed to be unified in this fight.

By the end of the day Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande had announced that fees would be capped at 6% when it came to increments for 2016.

Words by Natasha Ndlebe and Thembekile Sibiya

Photography by Kyle Kheswa

Published on LiveMagSA