“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot”
I am simply loving this Counting Crows song. Playing it on repeat. We have just finished our first week of exams at CPUT – successfully! Thank you Jesus. True story,a few weeks ago I really did not think we would be able to salvage any of the 2016 academic year. Small mercy. As last week transpired, we all waited with baited breath. Everyone in flight mode on stand-by. I traded my high heels for flat shoes this week. Some colleagues used public transport to come to work – not wanting to risk their cars being burnt by student protesters, if unrest flared up again. As Monday became Friday the uneasy peace settled. With every exam that was written we started breathing easier. I think we actually, yes might actually just get through this.
We would be fools to believe that we are not going to still feel seriously severe repercussions due to the extensive and violent #FeesMustFall protests. For now the violence has dissipated and we left with trying to put the pieces together again. But it will be years to recover completely. I do not think we can even start counting all the hidden costs.
As we were preparing for exam, security was a giant concern – not only for staff but for students too. Someone hit the nail on the head amidst the uncertainty during our preparations when the comment was made, “Now after the protests, CPUT does not even have the money to hire special security to ensure safety during exams“. Because of the protests, the ultimate reason for the very existence of the university was compromised. Short sighted gains for long term impact. Yes they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.
A week and a half ago I was really angry. CPUT is historically the poor cousin of all the universities in the Western Cape. Yet a quick google search will reveal some sterling minds and work have come from CPUT – Fsati is one example. See: http://www.cput.ac.za/blogs/fsati/
But sadly in the past two months, the overriding impression that has been made in my mind is that there are a number of CPUT students who want to cripple their own university. In one podcast of a student mass meeting I heard, a CPUT student leader was telling his followers that they should go as far as even disrupting essential services, namely Tygerberg Hospital when it was discovered that the hospital granted permission for exams to take place on their premises. Admittedly I have remind myself, to convince myself that this radical sentiment characterizes the minority of CPUT students. I’m not incredibly proud, but will also admit that in my seething anger last week, a part of me wished, and felt that justice would be served if the university could no longer operate at all. What if there was no CPUT… and then what? Little by little they were breaking CPUT down. I don’t think they stopped for a moment to think they were going too far.
I guess we could say they are just students – they don’t know better. I do however feel that each one of us has a voice inside of us that tells us, if you have something valuable then treat it with appreciation darn it. Value it! There might be justifiable reasons why you feel things are not going your way, however you need to value what you have. Don’t take it for granted. Perhaps the students will still learn. Hopefully they have already learnt. Hopefully CPUT has learnt. They should have taken a harder line with the students from the beginning. But what is done is done.
And so the unrelenting human spirit continues. We pick ourselves up, we dust ourselves off. For some more difficult than others, but we have no choice but to take all those broken pieces and start again. Marking underway, exams underway, and we start planning again. Next year will be tough, but it will be a new year – a chance for a fresh start. I’m proud to be part of CPUT.
Then lastly I have some happy news to share. I will explain details in my next blog. Because the details have not yet been finalised, I cannot say too much as yet. But I can say that it is related to the PhD, and it is really big news. It will entail a great deal of input and sacrifice from me, but if all goes well it is another blessing that humbles me and makes me say out loud, Our Father is faithful. Having a meeting tomorrow at 14:00, so I might post about it next week or the week after.