The past couple of weeks have been extremely stressful and challenging for all members of the university and we welcome the resolutions taken between students, workers, and management. Indeed, these are historic and positive steps forward and we should all recognise the achievements of this moment. Despite passionate and often conflicting positions and opinions on the entirely student-led protest action, the extraordinary events of the past days have opened up multiple spaces for constructive dialogue and illustrate that academics have an important role to play in the way the university is shaped in the future.
ASAWU executive members, in conjunction with other concerned academics from various faculties, played an important role in monitoring and witnessing events as they unfolded on the ground, in order to have a clear, balanced and nuanced understanding of what was taking place. In keeping with academics’ pastoral responsibilities towards students’ wellbeing, even during times of extreme disruption, the ASAWU Exec informed members about the possibility of donating food and sanitary supplies to students and we thank our colleagues for their immediate and generous response.
ASAWU’s membership holds very different positions and it is our duty to represent them all. As an academic union, we believe in the necessity of a plurality of voices and endeavour to act in the interests of all academic staff. While we respect the political commitment of those members of staff who have been heavily involved in supporting the protests, we also understand that many academics have had reservations or concerns about the events and have chosen not to become involved. The difference of viewpoints was clearly evident at the Special Senate Meeting on the 26th October when a number of non-senatorial academics decided, independently of any organization or grouping, to be present at the Senate meeting requesting permission to remain as observers. We urge our membership to stay cognisant of the fact that we are all, despite our different positioning, committed to the academic project, and for that reason it is vital that no one be silenced.
In this regard, we strongly encourage you to make your voice heard and obtain the kind of representation you would like by attending the postponed AGM (the date of which will be announced shortly), by standing for election on the Executive Committee or by getting involved with various portfolios and tasks that the Executive oversees.