UP Student CentreUP Student Centre

DANIELLE PETTERSON

Students are sleeping on Hatfield campus due to a lack of affordable transport and nearby accommodation. SRC member for Transport, Justice and Constitutions, Jordan Griffiths, says many students do not have transport home after tests in the evening. According to Griffiths, buses do not run in the evenings and some of these students can’t afford to take a taxi. “Currently, there are no routes that operate down to Arcadia and Sunnyside and this is a massive issue as there are many students who live in these areas,” said Griffiths. Griffiths added that several students had expressed their concern to him over the number of students they saw sleeping in the study centre early in the morning. Griffiths explained that many students resort to sleeping in the study centre or in toilets. “It is shocking and disgraceful and something needs to be done to help them,” said Griffiths. Busisiwe Radebe, SRC member for Student Well-Being, claims that some of the students sleeping on campus live long distances from the university and should ideally be placed in a residence. Radebe said, “I am unfortunately placed in a position where I cannot do anything to assist them because these students are not coming forward [and] seeking assistance.” According to Thabo Mdlalose, COPE@Tuks Chairperson, students who write late tests or stay late in order to study sometimes sleep in the study centre to avoid risking their safety when walking to their homes in Sunnyside or the CBD. Mdlalose said COPE@Tuks would like the university to provide an evening bus service for students who live long distances from the university. This bus service, he said, should not only cater for students who stay on external campuses, but also for students who travel from, in and around the CBD daily. Third-year BCom student Vusi Manqule “didn’t have a place to sleep last year.” As a result, he ended up “squatting” in the Tukkiewerf offices on Hatfield campus. “There was the issue of food and the issue of a place to rest. I was always tired,” said Manqule. This, he felt, caused him to fail. He is now repeating his final year. University management later assisted Manqule and he now stays in Campus House. According to Manqule, he spent approximately 97 days sleeping on campus last year. SRC President Mthokozisi Nkosi tells Perdeby that students who were sleeping on campus earlier in the year have been assisted. According to Nkosi, the office of the Dean of Students and the Temporary Student Committee worked together to ensure that those students who needed accommodation were placed in residences or in private accommodation such as Urban Nest, Pulse Living and Campus House. “We never let a student sleep just anywhere around campus. [W]e even made our offices available at some point for them to sleep in (although that is not allowed) but we couldn’t let them sleep outside in the cold,” said Nkosi. According to Colin Fouché, Director of Security Services, purposefully sleeping on campus is not allowed and should be discouraged. He explains that the Department of Students Affairs is equipped to help with professional counselling and support, and encourages students who are experiencing problems to approach them. “The university goes beyond to assist and to support and to encourage students in making a success [of] their academic careers, but there are always limitations,” says Fouché. He added that if the university can’t help students financially, they can still help them emotionally. “There is a lot of support going out but students must ask for it and accept it,” he said. Griffiths believes that much of the problem can be solved by ensuring that these students have access to transport in the evenings. “Currently the last bus to Mamelodi runs at 17:20. This is unacceptable.” According to Nkosi, the SRC is looking into getting regular buses to go to Mamelodi in the evenings, particularly during test and examination periods. “I would like to appeal to the students to come to us if they are still experiencing problems,” Nkosi said. See COPE@Tuks’s comment on this matter and the contact details of the Crisis Service hotline or the SRC @ pPerdeby749a, or click here.

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