Fees must fall was, especially for university students, arguably one of the most important things to have occured in the Department of Higher Education and Training. However, it was also one of the most dangerous student protest in the modern day.
Almost everyone saw it as it happened, some see it now as it happened then and some experienced it.
There is a research study that collected data from students and lecturers over the period of one year in order to better understand the reactions of students and lecturers and the effects the fees must fall protests had on their experiences.
According to the researchers, during the period of data collection, the reactions of students and lecturers changed. Some reactions became more aggressive, while others became more avoidant. The study report suggests that some participants of the study were afraid to share their opinions publicly for fear of worsening the situation. Many lecturers indicated that they want to speak about the protests, but the affective reactions caused them to remain silent.
This is what some lecturers had to say:
I want to hear when students are not comfortable with what we teach, but when they resort to violence I think it moves beyond the values we espouse.
I draw a line regarding violence. How do you convince your department that a student who had been involved in violence should be accepted as a postgraduate student?
And some of the students had this to say:
These events place stress on my relationship with lecturers, as I want to see them actively partake … Sometimes it even appears that they do not care at all.
I think in many ways we still want something from the lecturers’ side – where do they stand within all these happenings? They need to take a stand so that we know where we stand with them.
One of the greatest challenges about the protest is the relationship between lectures and students. There’s probably a chance that some students felt somewhat betrayed or not supported by lectures, yet at the same time lectures were probably just doing their job and staying where they should and not interfering with students affairs.