In defence of the 'open university': Wits University, student politics, and university apartheid

Murray, Bruce
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In 1959 the Nationalist Government, after a decade in power, finally passed through Parliament legislation to impose apartheid on South Africa's university system. In protesting against the Government's proposals for university apartheid and an end to black access to the ‘open universities’, Wits and the University of Cape Town (UCT) demonstrated a high degree of solidarity, both in developing a united front on their respective campuses and coordinating action as between themselves. Two corporate protests, the first in the University's history, were organized by Wits against university apartheid; a march from Braamfontein to the City Hall in May 1957, and a general assembly in April 1959 to record the University's 'solemn protest' against the new legislation. Wits continued thereafter to mount 'solemn protests' against the application of university apartheid. In April 1969, to mark the tenth anniversary of the Extension of University Education Act, the University staged a week of demonstrations, culminating in another general assembly. The events of Academic Freedom Week at Wits', Convocation Commentary proudly declared, ‘showed that protest need not disrupt university life. That is the essential difference between student protest here and at some of the bigger institutions in Britain and the United States’.
African Studies Seminar series. Paper presented 15 May 1995
University of the Witwatersrand, Anti-apartheid movements. South Africa, Discrimination in education. South Africa