The University of Fort Hare management has shut down its East London campus and told staff and students to return on Friday.
This comes after students removed staff from their workstations on Monday.
The academic year has not commenced at the campus as students demand that the university provide accommodation for registered students that are still without accommodation.
The unrest on the campus started two weeks ago with singing students disrupting vice-chancellor Professor Sakhela Buhlungu’s year-opening address.
In an email sent to students and staff last night, university’s interim deputy vice-chancellor: academics Professor John Hendricks stated the university management noted with regret the extreme harassment and intimidation that staff and students were subjected to on Monday.
“This is regrettable because management spent the past weeks attempting to reach consensus with the East London Student Representative Council around the issue of accommodation additional residence accommodation,” he said.
Hendricks said it was important to inform the university community that the SRC was continuously reminded that the negotiations were being conducted within a rational atmosphere in order to find a reasonable solution to the matter.
“The management decided on Friday, February 16, that the lectures on the East London campus would commence on Monday, February 19. We similarly gave a commitment to the SRC we would engage in a process to procure accommodation for the remaining qualifying students without accommodation,” he said.
He said the management viewed intimidation, harassment and disruption of the academic programmes in a serious light.
“All staff and students who feel unsafe at work or at university in this atmosphere are allowed to work from home until Friday. The management of the university would like to assure all staff and students were pursuing all possible avenues to bring the matter to a resolution,” he said.
East London premier Kwanele Ntlantala said the SRC had engaged the management countless times on the issue where temporal accommodation was requested while waiting for the process of procurement.
“The SRC proposed to the management to look for buildings/BnBs, as a temporal student accommodation, which will charge the same amount as that of residences so that it be possible to settle their debts when NSFAS or their bursaries pay. This proposal answers the question of financial loss to the institution,” he said.
He said the management had shown reluctance of putting the proposal into practicality.
“This reluctance thereof has caused the mass meeting to arrive at a decision of shutting down the campus up until management provides the temporal accommodation,” he said.
Kwanele Ntantala said accommodation was a basic need and without accommodation students were vulnerable to all kinds of abuse. “We all know how cruel the world is, we do not wish to see our brothers sisters being subjected to such cruelty under our watch.”