Wits faces staff exodus

Two deans have become the latest staff members to resign from Wits University.

Two deans have become the latest staff members to resign from Wits University. Picture: joburg.org.za

JOHANNESBURG - Concerns have been raised about the future of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) as more senior staff members resign in the midst of restructuring.

Johannesburg's oldest university has been rocked by recent sexual harassment cases in recent months and now several top academics have resigned.

Two deans have become the latest staff members to quit.

The Academic Staff Association of Wits University (ASAWU) says there's been a lack of clear communication.

It called on Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib to clarify why people have stepped down.

ASAWU's Professor David Dickinson said, "There has been a mismatch in some of the communications between information circulating within the university and information provided in various official notices.

"We are a university and we are based on the principles of truth. There is a need for tact."

Meanwhile, academic Steven Friedman says the changes at the university might be pushing staff away.

"It does seem to be that there is a sense from some people that it is not a place that they want to be at in the future. I assume it may have something to do with the changes."

Friedman says the future of Wits will only be determined in a few years.

Earlier this month, a third lecturer was fired after being found guilty of sexually harassing students.

Two academics were dismissed at the end of July.

A fourth case was before the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

The university made public a report into sexual harassment on campus and has formed a special task team to deal with the problem.