Students protest ‘pigsty’ res

Classes at Walter Sisulu University (WSU) in East London came to a halt yesterday after students embarked on a protest about the institution’s city residences.

Walter Sisulu University students staged a protest at St Georges park yesterday morning saying the University provided residences that do not meet the Higher Education Specification. PICTURE: SIBONGILE NGALWA

The SRC has complained that the university provides residences that do not meet higher education specifications.

One of them is Clark House, an office block converted into a residence in the city centre.

Students held a mass meeting on Wednesday and took to the streets demanding university management find alternative accommodation for all the students housed there as well as at Salinamix, Prosperity, Gladstone House and Ant Hill residences.

A few students also gathered at the St Georges Park at 10am yesterday.

Although students are divided on the matter, some are continuing to put pressure on the institution to provide acceptable residences.

The university has about 57 residences that were outsourced, and complaints about the conditions there have surfaced before.

University spokeswoman Yonela Tukwayo said the institution was probing how some residences were given accreditation after failing to meet the standards set by the Department of Higher Education.

“The SRC must take some responsibility for the current crisis because they were part of the accreditation committee.

“For now I can confirm that classes have been interrupted.

“What the students are raising are issues that have been there all along and we are aware of them and are attending to them,” said Tukwayo.

The university held a meeting yesterday with the landlords, after it had sent them a letter instructing them to upgrade the residences to meet the standards.

The campus management committee also met the SRC yesterday.

SRC president Aurie Bevu, who led the protest yesterday, said: “We want the university to address this issue in seven days.

“We want them to make sure that the students will be accommodated in safe places which are conducive for learning,” he said.

Students at the park protest told the Daily Dispatch that the issue of residences was a difficult one because it involved money.

“We are aware that there are people who were given money by some landlords to approve the pigsties that we live in now,” said a student who asked not to be named.

The university signs a lease agreement with all 57 residences for a period of one year. A committee made up of finance and residence personnel and members of the SRC approves the residences.

Tukwayo said it was a puzzle how some residences were accredited by the university’s accreditation committee. WSU was now faced with having to fix the mess.

“Yes, there are those residences that do not meet the standards.

“Some landlords dress up their residences just for the viewing, but we later find that some standards were not met. In Queenstown that has been quite prevalent.” — simthandilef@dispatch.co.za

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