The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Convocation of the University of Cape Town was held on Thursday, 15 December 2016.
The AGM received the reports of the President of Convocation, Prof Barney Pityana, and the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Max Price, both focusing on the national crisis in higher education as well as local challenges and how they were being addressed.
The Vice-Chancellor reviewed the highlights in the research and teaching arenas, commenting that this had been a particularly successful year in spite of the disruptions. Convocation approved these with acclaim. The award of the President of Convocation Medal to Mr Hugh Amoore, retired Registrar, was announced by Prof Pityana.
The agenda included a motion that had been submitted by a member beforehand calling on Convocation to poll the Convocation community around the world on a motion of no confidence in the Vice-Chancellor and the UCT executive. In the debate that followed, it was argued that in effect the motion was a vote of no confidence in the executive which many attendees could not support.
During the motion debate a vendor who runs some caf?s on campus also staged a protest about intimidation of his staff. He displayed posters quoting examples of hate speech they had been subjected to. However, the posters provoked an angry confrontation with student protesters and others. The Chair spoke out against all forms of hate speech.
The discussion around the no-confidence motion and a proposed amendment became disorderly and chaotic resulting in the Chair, Prof Pityana, deciding to adjourn the meeting without voting on the motion or amendments.
Throughout the meeting a protest was staged by students holding up posters speaking against the militarisation of campuses, outsourcing and tuition fees, among other issues. The UCT executive had committed to minimal use of private security on campuses during protest action this year, while over 1000 employees have now been insourced by the university. UCT announced recently that students from households earning below R600 000 per year will not face any fee increase in 2017, with the 8% tuition fee increase applicable only to students in the higher income brackets.
Arrangements to reconvene the adjourned meeting will be announced in due course.
Convocation comprises graduates and all holders of diplomas and certificates of the university, the Vice-Chancellor, the Deputy Vice-Chancellors and the academic staff, as well as emeritus professors or emeritus associate professors.