A General Assembly is an extraordinary event, convened on only the gravest of occasions.
The General University Assembly is presided over by the Vice-Chancellor and unites all constituencies in a joint stance on major issues. A Resolution is usually made and messages are read out by the leaders of each constituency, e.g. Chair of Council, VC as Chair of Senate, Union Presidents, SRC President, Convocation President. It is meant to be a unifying and cathartic event and not a decision-making body.
The first of these rare events was the historic Affirmation and Dedication of 16 April 1959 (upholding the principle of nonracial education and university autonomy). This was in opposition to the Extension of University Education Act.
The second was held 10 years later, on 16 April 1969, to commemorate the first General Assembly.
8 June 1972: A General Assembly was held to affirm the right of students to hold peaceful public assemblies.
26 August 1975: General Assembly stated the University's attitude to the detention of students without charge or trial.
3 May 1983: General Assembly condemned the racial quota provision of the Universities Amendment Act.
16 August 1985: General Assembly reaffirmed freedom, scholarship and service as the basis of the University.
28 October 1987: General Assembly responded to the government's decision to impose conditions on the granting of university subsidies.
5 August 1992: Call to government to curb violence and combat poverty and call for a peaceful transition to democracy
7 March 2001: The launch of Wits’ AIDS policy and commitment to fighting the epidemic
24 September 2005: Alumni General Assembly for those who boycotted their graduation ceremonies in protest under the apartheid regime.
A General Assembly was to be held on 7 October 2016 on the principle of full access to higher education, but consensus could not be reached on the issue or on the format of the Assembly.
WITS: A University in the Apartheid Era, by Mervyn Shear
Wits: The Open Years, by Bruce K Murray