Protesting UCT students: We're not lagging behind academically

The ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ movement entered its third week with some staging a sit-in at the Bremner Building.

FILE: Rhodes University protesting on campus ahead of media address on 23 March 2015. Picture: Masa Kekana/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Protesting University of Cape Town (UCT) students on Monday said they aren't lagging behind academically due to the protest action.

The 'Rhodes Must Fall' movement has entered its third week of protests with some staging a sit-in at the administrative building that houses the university's executive.

The students have given management until Friday to set a date for the removal of the Cecil John Rhodes statue, threatening to continue their sit-in at the Bremner Building if their demands aren't met.

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Third year student Masixole Mlandu said he has had very little sleep because of the protest action but has managed to attend classes.

"I'm attending class, but it's kind of difficult because we don't get sleep."

Honour student Ru Slayen said that they've organised tutors for those who've missed classes as a result of the protests.

"It's test week this week, people do have submissions due. We have organised means for them to get their assignments in."

Slayen admits not everyone is attending classes but said that students made arrangements to get their assignments handed in by friends.

JANSEN COMMENDS PROTESTS

At the same time, Free State University rector Jonathan Jansen commended the protesting students.

Jansen said the students have sparked a national conversation about transformation at public universities.

Jansen said, "I don't believe it's about the statue, I believe it's about whether the institutional culture of these universities, mine included, are in fact deeply committed to change in the complexion of their staff, the demographics of their students, the content of their curriculum and this thing called institutional culture."

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has also commented on the issue by saying he wants cool heads to prevail as issues are discussed.

Tutu was speaking in Stellenbosch on Monday at the launch of a film to raise awareness around tuberculosis.

"I hope that we will be able to discuss all of these issues calmly and respecting one another's point of view."

Images: Masa Kekana/EWN