It is almost the end of block one and many students are still faced with the problem of not having accommodation. Many endure sleeping in libraries and toilets or travel long distances to get to lectures. The scarcity of accommodation both on and off campus has been a persistent struggle mostly due to university residences being unable to provide spaces for every single applicant and the ludicrous amount of money required to secure a place and meals as well.
I used to live at one of the South Point buildings and I swore I would never go back again due to reasons including high prices, bad customer service, various safety and security issues, maintenance, etc. Despite all of that I found myself back in the same building because on campus accommodation had limited capacity and slightly higher prices compared to off campus accommodation. One has gotten used to this yearly struggle, and the university has not done much to help with this issue. The national student financial aid scheme (NSFAS) also seems to distance itself whilst most of its recipients rely on off and on campus accommodation. Seemingly though, NSFAS continues to accredit certain buildings that charge high prices which they are failing to cover. This results in a huge shortfall that students must top up on from their own pockets. The student representative council (SRC) has made efforts to help alleviate some of the stress caused by this crisis but their efforts have been a drop in the ocean. Last year, we saw some activism and physical action directed at South Point accommodation and their ridiculously high fees with the hashtag #SouthPointFeesSoRidiculous. Moreover, a march to their office for a memorandum handover by the Wits EFF Student Command managed to draw attention to how private accommodation providers charge unfair and unregulated prices; in addition to how these providers have been exploiting poor students who have no alternatives and are forced to pay exorbitant amounts for accommodation of a lesser quality.
I write this article as I want to alert and inform most students who may be in a sticky situation when it comes to accommodation to not fall prey to people who may want to exploit their desperation. If they are still on the waiting list to get on university residences, they must continue to be proactive and probe the university and the SRC to come up with more effective solutions to the nationwide accommodation crisis.