Students Refuse Meal

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By Anna Ingwafa and Chunga Chunga WINDHOEK Hundreds of University of Namibia (Unam) students angered by a recent decision by management that the eating of breakfast be compulsory – apparently to make them more attentive during lectures – yesterday boycotted the introductory meal. Though students are convinced the motive for the compulsory meal could be profit by the occasionally cash-strapped institution, a senior staffer disagreed with this version rather insisting it is to prevent hunger-induced yawning which is rampant during morning lectures. New Era correspondents on campus said over 600 students out of some 1 080 boarders yesterday signed a petition against the compulsory meal they say will dent their pockets. Some students said they are not happy with the decision by management to force-feed them, as this will increase their boarding fees by several thousands of dollars in a year. What the compulsory breakfast means is that the institution will deduct a daily amount of N$12 a day from the fees paid by students irrespective of whether they eat or not. Students say they are not complaining about the quality of the breakfast whose introductory menu yesterday contained yoghurt, a sausage, a bowl of cereal, bread and coffee, but rather the decision by management to essentially force-feed them. “Now my student fees have risen up since the introduction of this breakfast. I cannot afford this additional N$3000,” lamented one student who requested anonymity. Though the students will have different menus, some are apparently not happy that they will have to eat mahangu porridge particularly on Fridays, according to one source. Students say management should give an option to those who are not interested to eat the breakfast or even abolish it entirely because they say they were not consulted. The spokeswoman at the university Katrina Sikeni said a meeting between the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) and the Vice-Chancellor Professor Lazarus Hangula is expected to take place at 08h30 this morning to discuss the burning issue. Yesterday, the SRC had an audience with the Dean of Students Dr Kandjii Murangi. She explained that the reason they introduced the compulsory meal was to address a widespread concern from lecturers who said many students were skipping and that some of those in attendance yawned throughout and it was obvious why they yawned. She maintained that since the university was the students’ guardian it made the decision in good faith and not to make profit as some students are implying but rather to make them “focused” during morning lectures when the problem is more pronounced. She further said students who went on field visits and other academic excursions would be refunded their money at the end of each academic year.

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