Cape Town – A group of students and workers carrying placards staged a protest on Monday at the University of Cape Town’s Jameson Hall during a send-off event held for outgoing Vice Chancellor, Dr Max Price.
The group walked in as Deputy Vice Chancellor for Transformation, Professor Loretta Feris, was on stage.
The event had to be cut short because of the disruption.
Student leader Thabang Bhili said that the significance of the protest was to call into question the legacy of Dr Price who has been at the helm of the institution since 2008 and led the university throughout the tumultuous periods of the Rhodes Must Fall and Fees Must Fall campaigns.
“I think the significance of the protest was to call into question the legacy of Max Price – the personification and a leader of a racist-neoliberal institution that has invisibilized and devalorized Black students, academics and workers. Contrary to the UCT propaganda machine that seeks to whitewash the violent tenure of Max Price, the picket wanted to bring it in front of everyone that this guy; whom we are supposed to celebrate is directly responsible for setting back the futures of many students and workers, Black academics are constantly undermined and not recognized at UCT at his approval. We also wanted to understand what are we bidding farewell to when BIG CHEF workers have been made unemployed by UCT for more than a year without any form of income – how can we celebrate the destruction of families? We were also sending a message that we are aware that UCT is rolling back and attacking many gains and victories that were won through struggle in 2015, we promise to fight back and resist. We were also just saying to Max Price that we won’t miss him and his dictatorship.”- Thabang Bhili, student activist
The event was short lived as a result of the protest.
UCT spokesperson Nombuso Shabalala said that though the university respects the right to protest, it was disappointing that many students who had gathered at the hall to listen to Dr Price were not able to do so and share their thanks. Dr Price was however able to stay for 45 minutes and mingled with students present in the event.
Dr Price will leave UCT at the end of June and Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng has been appointed as the next Vice Chancellor.