Change the world

#FeesMustFall

28/09/2016

This article appeared in the Herald of 28 September 2016.

 

I AM a born free. Or so I thought. 

CAMPUS TALKS: NMMU students listen to acting vice-chancellor Dr Sibongile Muthwa addressing them. 

Picture: FREDLIN ADRIAAN 

This past year, I was terrified to learn that my opinion, sacrifices and dreams mean nothing. I was locked in a box, decisions about my future were brutally removed from my grasp and my days are now spent in uncertainty, anxiously awaiting the next e-mail informing us if classes at NMMU will resume.

But I can no longer sit by silently as my rights are in jeopardy.

Several times these past two years we have been advised by the university to remain at home because a protest group was blocking all entrances. To me this is unacceptable.

We have worked hard to pay our fees for this year and as such we deserve uninterrupted education. A lot of students live in other towns such as Uitenhage, Despatch and Jeffreys Bay, and spend a great amount of time and effort to get to the university, just to learn that they cannot enter the campus.

I enrolled at university because I take my future seriously, I want to learn and I want to be proud of my education. As protests continue my future is uncertain, I am prevented from learning and the education I once took pride in has become a joke.

Students have been granted way too much power over the university processes. These disruptions are a disgrace and it is astounding to me that chaos prevails.

There are many students yearning to continue their studies, but their voices are drowned by protest chants. I fail to see the democracy in all of this: I choose to study, yet I am not allowed to fulfil this decision.

I am tired of the blaming game.

Yes, there is corruption and pain caused by mistakes made in the past. Yes, there are people who deserve to study but who are forced to make debt or give up on their dreams.

However, students need to realise that they are responsible for their own future and that the only honest way to take control is to work hard for it.

The fight towards free education is a just one, but the end does not justify the means. Students (and other parties that so enthusiastically joined the protests) need to understand that violence and destruction do not offer any long-term benefits.

If we want free education, we should act as if we deserve it.

It is frustrating to sit and stare as my future is slipping away, and I can no longer do so. Burning down buildings, yanking people from their beds in residences to strike and preventing others accomplishing what they have been working hard to achieve is selfish.

Vandalism is barbaric and a waste of money, and intimidating people is cowardly.

The majority of students have worked long hours and made great sacrifices to be where they are, and it is horrendous to stand between them and the finishing line.

Do not pretend you are fighting for the greater good if you are destroying dreams in the process.

At this rate free education will come at a great price.

(I wrote this letter to convey my frustration with the “Fees must fall” movement, since it is nearly impossible to be heard at mass meetings.)

Carla Dodd, final year BSc geochemistry student at NMMU 

Contact information
Mrs Debbie Derry
Deputy Director: Communication
Tel: 041 504 3057
debbie.derry@mandela.ac.za