SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: October 14, 2016

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):University of Cape Town

Region & Country:Southern Africa | South Africa

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On October 14, 2016, student activists at the University of Cape Town assaulted the school’s Vice Chancellor, Dr. Max Price, following a meeting with him.

The activists were connected to “Fees Must Fall,” a student movement that began in October 2015 opposing high tuition fees and racial discrimination on South African campuses. They met with Dr. Price and two of his colleagues on campus to discuss their demands.  Following the meeting, Dr. Price reportedly informed the students that he was due at another meeting, and, while attempting to leave, he was surrounded, and punched twice by one or more of the students. He was then escorted off campus by security.  

Scholars at Risk is concerned about violent attacks in the course of an on-campus protest. While students have the right to free expression, that right must be exercised in a manner that is consistent with university values including non-violence and social responsibility. Acts of violence on campus threaten the well-being of higher education community members, and undermine academic freedom and institutional autonomy.