In the early hours of Monday 19 October, hundreds of Rhodes University students took to campus streets to protest the rising costs of Minimum Initial Payment (MIP) as well as potential fee hikes facing students for the upcoming year. Embizweni is on the ground. Words by Heather Cameron and Megan Whittington. Photos by Greg Roxburgh.
After barricading entrance and exit points to the university campus shortly after midnight, protesting students moved across campus, stopping at various residences, in an attempt to encourage more students to partake. The aim is to suspend all activities or shut down the university until the students’ demands are met and issues are addressed. The issues include MIP payments, fees increase and international student fees. Protesting students also wanted full disclosure and transparency regarding the university’s spending.
This is similar to the events that occurred at the University of the Witwatersrand during the previous week. Universities across the country are making their concerns known, with #feesmustfall becoming a national trend.
It is necessary for students to pay their MIP in order to secure a spot at the university for the academic year. However, due to an increase in MIP fees for 2016, many students unable to afford the rising costs will not be able to return to Rhodes University. Barriers to academic enrollment, such as MIP, have roused the protesting students at Rhodes University into action.
Students have stationed themselves at various entrances and exits to the university since 3am. As of 10am, groups remain. While police are present and tyres have been set alight along Somerset Street, the protesters remain peaceful and non-violent.
The Vice-Chancellor addressed students at 11am at Barratt Lecture Theatre. Here he discussed the necessity of funding in the upkeep of the university and its infrastructure, as well as different options for payment of MIP. Audience members questioned university support for the students and some senior members of staff confirmed their support for the movement. He ended by saying tomorrow would continue as usual. However, many students were left unhappy with the discussions.
Additional gallery of images:
More to follow.