Port Elizabeth – Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) students who want academic activities to resume will be staging a silent protest under the banner of #OpenNMMU after the university was shut down indefinitely due to the #FeesMustFall protests sweeping the country.
The group, which is being led by students Mathew Mackay and Kevin van Wyk, has secured police permission to conduct its protest at the intersection leading into the main NMMU campus in Summerstrand. The protest is scheduled to take place daily from Wednesday to Friday between 08:00 and 12:00.
Students at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University campus in Port Elizabeth during the #OpenNMMU protest. (Derick Spies, News24)
In a post on its Facebook page, #OpenNMMU said its aim was to see NMMU reopened so that students can complete the 2016 academic programme as scheduled.
“There have been many repercussions due to the shutdown, negatively impacting the majority of the students. During this period of time these students who do not follow the FMF movement [#FeesMustFall] have gone unrepresented.
“The shutting down of the university has been a disruptive non-consensual action, against the student body of NMMU as a whole. The volatility of the situation has left us helpless and hopeless, waking up every day in anticipation of attending lectures, only to be informed that academic activities are still indefinitely suspended – withholding us from exercising our basic right to further education,” they said.
The group wants assurance from the university that adequate time will be provided to prepare for tests, assignments and examinations in light of the disruptions.
“It will be unfair to expect students to write tests one on top of the other, the same applies to assignments,” it said.
#OpenNMMU also asked that the university provide students with consistent access to basic facilities and necessities at residences as well as access to the campus clinics.
“With all clinics being closed [students] are in a struggle to obtain the chronic medication they need, and this could be a matter of life or death. We demand that these clinics also be reopened.”
The group also highlighted that international students at the institution were more adversely affected, with many having only rented accommodation till the end of November.
“International students attend NMMU according to strict study visas which usually expire at the end of November each year.
“Contingency plans need to be made to ensure that these students complete their academic year in time,” they said.