Police Violence and Media Blackout as University o...

Police Violence and Media Blackout as University of Venda Students Demand Food

Students at the University of Venda are protesting after meal voucher delays left many without food. But, despite organizing to stop literal fucking starvation, the police response has been brutal, and the media has been quiet.

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme provides South African students with funds for books, food, transportation and lodging. For students living under the poverty line, these funds can be crucial. So when technical issues kept students from getting their money on time, it was more than just an inconvenience, making activists’ pledge to shut down the school until everyone can eat a noble goal. Unfortunately, the police disagreed, and have responded to the protests with rubber bullets.

The media’s relative silence is striking. South African student protests have garnered significant coverage, and when police turned on demonstrators at Wits University last year, there was outrage. But Wits is a wealthier, whiter school than Venda, and activists are watching an awful double standard play out: A Wits student made headlines after police shot him with two rubber bullets, but a Venda student struck with 18 is largely ignored.

As is often the case, social media has stepped up where traditional media has failed. Students have uploaded proof of police brutality directly to the internet, and without the work of activists @twiiter_black and @chulayok, I would have no idea any of this was happening.

All this work to be heard. And all because students need food.


About Stewart Finnegan

In a perfect world, I'd be a professor who teaches poetry using episodes of mediocre sci-fi procedurals, but for now, I'm just a tutor who watches a lot of TV. I got my BA from Kalamazoo College in English with a focus on creative writing, and someday soon I'd like to go back to academia. Most of my formal teaching training was as a creative writing TA, but I've used those skills professionally more to tutor math and write data entry training materials. And though I'd like to focus my work on what I'm really passionate about (which is Netflix binges and outdated video games, mostly), it's the craft of teaching and writing that keeps me coming back. That's why I'm excited to be a part of High Faluter: I'm finding that academia doesn't just stay in academia. And if I can bring crappy midbrow entertainment into academia too, well, all the better. You can find me on Twitter: @StewartFinnegan