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Some Wits students complain over poll participation

The university says most students received the poll, except for some who had their phones off.

FILE: Students shut down Wits campus after Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande failed to deliver a free tertiary education policy. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - As Wits University prepares to announce the outcome of a poll about whether the institution should reopen next Monday, some students have complained they couldn't participate in the vote as they didn't receive the SMS.

Yesterday, SMSes were sent to students and staff who were asked to vote if they want academic activities to resume on campus if adequate security is provided.

The university says most students received the poll, except for some whose phones were switched off or their details had not been updated on the system.

The university's Shirona Patel says: "Students updated their details too late on the database as well, so what we thought is that we ask people to update their details regularly throughout the year.

"But many people only went in yesterday to update their details. We also had instances which people's cellphones were either switched off or out of reach but that was a small percentage."

The university says it will make an announcement on the outcomes of a poll it conducted about whether the institution should reopen next Monday.

Vice-chancellor Adam Habib said at least ten institutions have been closed nationwide in the wake of demonstrations and violent clashes between students, campus security and police during the last week.

Patel said they will announce the results around midday today.

"Given that we didn't do a sample, we did the entire student body, we've got enough responses we believe and we've pulled in enough people for it to be credible."

But the Wits SRC's Fasiha Hassan said contrary to what vice-chancellor Habib has said, they are willing to engage as students.

"What we're calling for is the university assembly, which all stakeholders of the Wits community, students, academics, workers, management, etc. all coming to one space and discuss these pertinent issues."

Academics at the institution are also expected to demonstrate in support of students at the Great Hall stairs at noon today.