Campus chaos

Echoing recent protests at the University of the Witwatersrand, some students from the University of Johannesburg ran amok this week, protesting against a 14% fee hike proposed by the institution as a way of harmonising staff and academic salaries. By the end of the week, 43 students had been arrested and released on bail, and are expected to appear in court in the next few weeks.

The week bought ugly pictures of police officers firing rubber bullets at cowering students. Some were injured.

Castro Ngobese, national spokesperson of the Young Communist League (YCL), said the organisation condemned the arrest of the students. “As the YCL we strongly believe that students have every right to defend access to education and that this should be protected,” he said.

Wits vice-chancellor Loyiso Nongxa told the Mail & Guardian‘s education correspondent David Macfarlane this week that if university authorities had to call in ‘outside help” such as the police, ‘this suggests a failure in the whole university community”.

He said that ‘universities are not islands of privilege” and, ‘The laws that apply to the whole of society—regarding the safety of people and damage to infrastructure, for instance—apply to us as well.”

While students certainly have every right to defend their access to education, they do not have a right to damage property or pelt motorists with stones. Debate, surely, is the only way to resolve this situation. The two sides need to start talking.

FULL SPEED AHEAD NOT SO FAST
Al Gore
The 2007 Nobel Peace Prize went jointly to this former United States vice-president and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about climate change, and “to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change”. If only Gore were running for the top post this time round ...
Tornado alarmists
The message is certainly “Not so fast!” to every person who forwarded this week’s hysterical email warnings about a tornado—some even said hurricane—that was supposed to hit Jo’burg. The emails caused panic and traffic jams. To all those alarmists we say: remember Chicken Little ...

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