University of Fort Hare nursing department students at the East London campus have defied the orders of the management to return to class this morning.Instead they are having a meeting on a way forward.
Yesterday, acting dean of students Prince Dabula issues a letter instructing all the students to return to class, but the students say they will not return to class until their demands were met.
In the letter he wrote: “Management of the university has observed with great concern the perpetration of acts of public violence, vandalism and intimidation by a small group of students from the department of nursing.”
“We have not been on the streets to be told about public violence. We are just demonstrating around the campus,” said another student who wanted to remain anonymous.
In the letter, Dabula also said they will close the department for the remainder of the year if students fail to return to class.
At least three students have been given letters of intended suspension by Dabula.
According to the letter the students are to make a representation in writing as to why the university should not suspend them until the disciplinary inquiry has been concluded.
They are accused of:Damage to university property by a willful, deliberate act; and improper conduct on university premises, which led to disruption of proper conduct of work of the university by engaging on illegal gathering and demonstration.
Since Monday more than 300 nursing students have boycotted classes demanding the removal of the acting head of the department, Ntombana Rala.
They accuse her among other things of victimising students and deregistering modules whenever it suited her.
A student, who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of victimisation, said he had one of his modules deregistered when he went to enquire about it he was told that Rala deregistered the module.
“That means I will be here the whole of next year doing a model I could be doing this year,” he said.
Deputy vice-chancellor academic affairs Ajuruchukwu Obi said this issue started last semester when student leaders made a presentation “to us (management) indicating that the lecturer was seem to be very strict. They want her removed from teaching undergraduate programmes. That strike action continued over five weeks she was eventually removed”.
Obi said Rala was recently appointed acting head of department following the retirement of the head of that department.
“The students now say they do not even want her to serve as the acting head of the department.We are saying we cannot just declare a lecturer redundant when she has not committed any serious offence that would be. We are managing the situation and we hope it would be resolved soon,” he said.