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Protocols for protests

- Wits University

Communique from the Senior Executive Team on protocols for protests.

Dear Colleagues and Students

The Senior Executive Team of Wits University would like to remind all students that upon registration, they agreed that at all times and in all situations they would abide by the University’s rules. Any individual who destabilises the University’s academic programme by disrupting classes or any other actions may face disciplinary proceedings, including suspension and possible expulsion from the University, in accordance with the Rules for Student Discipline.

In particular, it is concerning that student protests have been emerging without issues first being raised through formal structures. Some of these actions are being used to destabilise the academic programme, advance the politics of spectacle, direct abuse towards others, and violate the rights of others by, for example, blocking entrances to campuses. In a recent case, a grandfather and his young granddaughter were trapped on a campus, which seriously traumatised the granddaughter. This is unacceptable. 

The University has therefore put in place the following protocols in this regard:

  1. Free ingress to and egress from our premises is an essential right. We will not tolerate the blocking of entrances or any other areas that prevent the academic programme from continuing, and security has been requested to enable this.
  2. In the event that unauthorised protests emerge, there will not be any formal engagement by executive management at the site of the protest. Executive management is always open to negotiations to resolve issues provided that protesters choose a delegation and there is agreement on a mutually convenient time.
  3. Thereafter, protesters will be given a fixed time in which to move. These instructions will be issued by either executive management or security. If protesters fail to disperse within the given time, they will be removed from the area.
  4. Should it be determined that protestors cannot be removed without there being a possibility of violence and bystanders being hurt, then an entrance will be opened and secured, and the campus will first be evacuated before protestors are removed.
  5. Any individual found to have been involved in blocking entrances or otherwise violating the rights of others may be subject to disciplinary proceedings, including suspension and possible expulsion from the University, in accordance with the Rules for Student Discipline.

These protocols will be operational as of 8 May 2017.

The University will protect the right to protest, but this must happen within the framework of the Constitution, and we urge all protestors to respect the dignity and rights of others.

Senior Executive Team

Wits University

8 May 2017




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