The ASAWU Executive held a general meeting for academic staff yesterday at the School of Public Health. It was the largest ever meeting of academics held by the union with well over 200 participants. Thanks to all those who came and gave their views.
The meeting was constructive and discussed a range of issues related to the results of our survey conducted last week, but also the current crisis on campus, the matter of public funding for higher education and what we as academics might be able to do in this moment. A broad set of views were represented at the meeting and the effort was to seek a consensual way forward.
The meeting mandated ASAWU, on behalf of academics at Wits, to call for the following:
· Increased public funding for higher education. Universities need to be considered as a public good and funding needs to reflect the important role they play in social and economic development.
· Increased effort towards transforming university spaces and decolonising the learning environment. Such a request requires not just rethinking course content but also pedagogical approaches and governance structures.
· The complete removal of security forces – be they private or police – from campus. Teaching and learning cannot take place in a context of securitization.
· A cessation of the use of violence and destruction of infrastructure by all parties involved – be it students, private security, or police. In a democracy there are many non-violent avenues to resolve our problems and differences.
· Genuine dialogue between university management and students in order for the academic project to resume as soon as possible. Such dialogue should emphasise commonalities such as better funding for higher education and be concluded with a University Assembly.
· Academics across South Africa to engage in a National Day of Action to support improved funding for and transformation of higher education so as to resolve this crisis and to address the impacts of massification on the university sector.
To reinforce these calls, we invite academics to join us on the steps of the Great Hall on Friday September 30, 2016 at 12h30 in academic gowns to peacefully assert these desires.