Letter: Students, not the universities, originators of campus violence

Violence is an umbrella term for physical actions which occur when one or more parties fail to resolve disputes through peaceful means, much like the apartheid regime did to unarmed protesting children on June 16 1976 in Soweto. Intimidation is the use of threats of force or other means to motivate the targeted party to do or refrain from doing certain things, to hold or abandon a certain viewpoint, or whatever else may be in the interest of the party engaged in making such threats.

Both are different and separate offences codified in law, though often used in a hybrid form to achieve desired results. While they may be the results of applied force, poverty, illiteracy or discrimination these are consequences, not acts of violence.

Furthermore, education is not a right, human or otherwise. It is a legal obligation placed on parents by the government, which is borne by the state only when parents lack money to send their kids to school.

It’s not free, like deluded left-wingers and ignorant students think, because somebody (in this case taxpayers) must foot the bill for teachers, books, schools and associated facilities.

The reason why universities are fundamentally Eurocentric is because the university is a European concept (Greek, actually) which was brought to Africa. Facilities were built in urban areas to cater for urban educational requirements as well as to further the interests of power elites (often colonial and city-based) by luring intellectual talent from and attempting to divide rural power centres of the continent’s colonial era.

This state of affairs has changed, with universities becoming more reflective of the communities they serve with locally or nationally sourced courses and lecturers.

The relationship between students and universities is not supposed to be one of violence, but of education received in return for payment. If violence occurs, it is initiated by students and responded to by the government.

After all, how many bona fide universities have refused to teach students after fees were paid, burned their homes and possessions or defaced their art? They neither seek to dehumanise students nor to use violence and intimidation against them as is done in the primary and secondary school systems to this day.

They do in fact provide opportunities for education and self-development instead of the indoctrination students received as pupils in primary and high school. For the first time in their lives, students are given a chance to find the multiple facets of their humanity through independent thought, research and study.

To kids used to being spoon-fed knowledge, and protected from the world by their families and communities, this process is frightening, difficult and fraught with risks of failure at every turn. It’s this fear, along with the inability of some to adapt to a new environment, that leads students to violence, not the peaceful tertiary education establishments who do the best they can to welcome every student into their halls of learning.

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