OPINION: NMMU must not fall - because of #FeesMustFall

SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

In light of the continued #FeesMustFall protests at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), Port Elizabeth resident, Michael Gossman, says all stakeholders at the university need to urgently sit down and discuss the situation or the end will be catastrophic for everyone involved. 

He submitted the opinion piece below:

This is an appeal to members of the media for continued support in securing the future of education in Nelson Mandela Bay.

The protest movement that has brought education to a stand-still at NMMU is not another transient rebellion that will soon be quelled and forgotten. Tremendous efforts have been made to reach a resolution, but those involved have come to a stalemate.

Proponents of the shutdown refuse to yield until their demands are met, while others insist that this is a violation of their right to education and demand that the university continue its operations.

NMMU management does not possess the resources or the authority to meet the demand for free higher education, nor can they open the university while protesters threaten the safety of staff and students who would try to continue their studies.

It has become evident that this matter cannot be settled among students and management alone. If a resolution is not reached in a matter of days, the university will be forced to take drastic measures, and it is likely that the 2016 academic year will be suspended, to be recommenced in 2017.

The implications of this would be catastrophic: students in their final year would not graduate as planned; international students whose visas expire would be unable to complete their course entirely; and there would be no 2017 intake, leaving countless matriculates in a state of limbo.

An ominous warning has accompanied the recent reports of other institutions, where protests have escalated to violence and police action. The fact that the situation at NMMU has not yet escalated is all the more reason to remain mindful of it, as the outcome of this tenuous issue has yet to be determined.

Our fight cannot be between each other, for our greatest enemy has been our division, along with the need for experienced leadership and wisdom. We appeal, therefore, to the members of our society who have built their success and reputation through these principles to consider the stakes of this matter. The shutdown of our education system jeopardises not only the futures of all students, but the futures of the companies which rely upon their success.

We are all stakeholders in this regard, and, on behalf of those who seek to find a resolution for all and safely complete their studies in 2016, I petition the businessmen and women of Nelson Mandela Bay to take initiative in working with us to redress the wrongs of the past and ensure a sustainable future.

The Student Representative Council is holding a joint mass meeting on Saturday afternoon at 12:00pm in the South Campus Indoor Sports Centre, open to all stakeholders. Their Facebook and Twitter pages can provide additional information and updates.