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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Police dogs on campus cause anxiety for UCT students

Thabo Mohlala

Student leaders at the University of Cape Town (UCT) hope the management would relent and remove the massive white marquee pitched on the rugby field to serve as an exam venue following disruptions in the last two weeks.

More importantly, the leaders are trying to negotiate for the deferment of exams as most students said are not ready and others cited anxiety caused by strong police presence and dogs on campus.

Seipati Tshabalala, the outgoing student representative council (SRC) president, said university management would report back to them this afternoon on whether or not students would be allowed to defer examinations by a few days or a week.

“Students need time after the protest actions we experienced but the senate has been adamant they won’t grant blanket deferral and wanted proof or reasons for the postponement. After we held several meetings with them we hope today they would come up with a positive response,” said Tshabalala, who is writing her final exam.

Tshabalala took to Twitter to express her unhappiness about the situation on campus. 

Tshabalala said they received complaints from several students who felt they could not write their exams under the “abnormal prevailing conditions”.

She said some told them they were afraid of dogs and that the whole atmosphere was just not conducive to write examinations. She said tutors have also indicated their objections to the university security measures.

“What we heard is that the tutors would refuse to invigilate the examinations in the tent and that they intend petitioning the university to have the tent removed,” Tshabalala said.

University management said it had to resort to erecting the tent because it proved difficult for their campus security to secure all its multiple venues on campus. This has led to strict access control and road closures until the end of November when the examinations would have been completed.

“The plan is designed to ensure examinations are concluded in a safe, quiet and calm atmosphere. Due to the ongoing risk of disruptions, an alternative plan is being executed to ensure the successful delivery of the examinations,” read the university communiqué.

UCT has by far been the only institution that experienced ongoing disruptions compared to other universities in the country. It was forced to obtain a court interdict against some of the student activists preventing them from engaging in further disruptions.

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