Sunday, September 27, 2020

Another UB students’ strike inevitable as accommodation crisis deepens

It was a pathetic scenario as hundreds of UB students queued up for accommodation at the university’s main campus, others even sleeping in the open overnight as they had nowhere to go.

This comes at a time when the Ministry of Education (MoE) decided to contest a court order directing them to pay students a two-month back dated allowance amounting to P3840.

The UB SRC president, MacDonald Rakgare, said that the situation had reached a state of emergency as, by 1 a.m, students were still waiting outside the Student Welfare offices for accommodation responses.
Rakgare said others even slept outside because they had nowhere to stay for the night.

The UB SRC Vice president, Nico Selobilwe, added that they were faced with crisis as the University had given accommodation to the first year students at the expense of other students coming from far away areas.

Mohurutshe Reetsang, the director of Public Affairs at UB, said the university had a bed capacity of 4718, and 2500 had been reserved for first year students. She said 1506 have been reserved for continuing students while 240 for were held for postgraduates.

She said the reason the first-year students had been reserved more accommodation is that, unlike their sisters and brothers, they are new in the city and therefore do not know how to fend for themselves.

“The criterion is that we give priority to those from far areas but if the rooms are full then we have no other option.”

However, the SRC blamed UB management for the crisis as they say they were not consulted on the new accommodation arrangement. The Minister of Academic Affairs, Khumoekae Richard, said, “We are not part and parcel of the accommodation criteria, yet we have to explain to students about something we have not been consulted on.”

Some angry students complained of nepotism and crooked accommodation selection.

“I’m not aware of nepotism,” said Reetsang, “that would be unprofessional and very unfortunate to those who practice it.”

She further explained that the reason why some people from as far as Satau might not be accommodated was that they might have used addresses of acquaintances in the city and this led to the assumption that they were from the city.

“However, we called about three hundred students with their parents and made them aware of the situation.”

Richard also explained that the situation was fueled by the reduction of off campus allowance as students are running away from the expensive off-campus accomodation.
He blamed the UB management for turning down an arrangement between UB SRC, MoE, and FNB to have on-campus students getting food on credit as they had not received their allowances, calling it reckless and ignorant.

Banjinji Motshidisi, a second year student who hails from Nshakashokwe, said she had not received any response, yet she had been living on campus for the past year.

“I have no relatives in and around Gaborone yet I have not been accommodated in school, where am I supposed to go?” she asked in despair.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.