Johannesburg – The Wits University poll for staff and students to find out whether they want classes to resume is going ahead as expected on Thursday morning.
In a statement the university said that this was an opportunity for staff and students “to have your voice heard regarding the resumption of the academic programme”.On Wednesday students marched to the offices of the Chamber of Mines of South Africa in Johannesburg as part of their #FeesMustFall campaign. It is the second week of university students protests across the country.
The poll is taking place between 7am and 4pm, electronically and via SMS. Based on the results of the poll, a decision will be made whether or not to resume all academic activities on Monday.
“Students will not have to pay for the SMSes. However, students will be required to have at least 30 cents worth of airtime loaded on their cellphones for the SMS system to work. The systems will filter the results to ensure that only one vote per person is counted,” the university explained.
According to Wits, the results will be verified by SizweNtsalubaGobodo, a top auditing company in the country “as the IEC cannot assist with this process”.
Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel said that the results would be available on Thursday night, but would only be announced on Friday morning.“If the majority of students respond and say yes, that they want to continue on Monday, then the university will ensure that sufficient security is put in place. This will ensure that the academic programme can continue,” she said.
Wits said that although parents and alumni could not take part in the poll, they were encouraged to share their views with the university.
There were mixed reactions to the poll on social media.
On Twitter @Aphiwe_Z_Mbewu questioned: “vote yes, go back to class then what? #WitsPoll.”
@TheRNPSA said it could not wait to see the outcome of the @WitsUniversity poll. “To see who really wants to study VS who supports the Wits SRC #FeesMustFall.”
@CatChristy said she was keen to go back to Wits to complete studies, “but no, I don’t want this to end the fees debate”, while @SandzIAM said the Wits poll was designed to divide students themselves. “Yes the academic program should resume but management has to engage with all students.”
@psibhayi said she liked the Wits poll idea. “I think other Universities should do it too… Every student must be heard!!”
But @B_consciousmess said that today poll would prove if the “majority of Wits students are selfless people who willing to sacrifice or just plain selfish!”.