Rhodes University students are planning to possibly disrupt exams from inside venues today have been warned they will be prosecuted and suspended from the institution.
Private security guards armed with high powered paint ball guns that shoot ceramic projectiles have been deployed outside venues along with small numbers of police and campus security.
According to an email to all students and staff, venues will be locked down for the entire duration of the exam.
Students writing exams will also be subjected to security pat downs and be required to empty their pockets.
Although several students at a meeting on Thursday night said they planned to disrupt an economics exam this afternoon they have been warned they will receive 0% for the exam, suspended from the university and prosecuted for breach of a court interdict.
Rhodes has been quiet this morning and there have been no reported disruptions.
A statement released today by the National Tertiary Education Union urged invigilators and volunteer staff inside exam venues not toapproach protesters if the tried to cause internal disruptions.
They said police would be at venues to make arrests.
“During this time, the volunteer staff will enter the venue and will help to keep the non-protesting students calm and/or assist with evacuation as the context dictates,” a statement from the Nteu executive said
Staff were urged not to interact with the protesters but “to maintain a reassuring presence for non-protesting students and the invigilators who will also be grateful of support.”
HODs were requested to be sensitive to the fact that invigilators are anxious about the situation and to provide as much support as possible.
“The statement said it was important to be aware that some staff may be suffering from PTSD or may be triggered if disruptions took place inside.
It said no staff may attempt to physically restrain or effect an arrest on a protester inside or around an examination venue.
” We also recommend that the utmost caution be used when attempting to engage with protesters verbally so as not to inflame the situation.
“We recommend that all invigilators and additional staff volunteers should rather focus on reassuring the non-protesting student majority as they will be the most traumatized in the event of a protest.”