Expert opinion: from student enragement to student engagement: what is your theory of change?
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Since 2015, a series of student protests known mostly by Twitter hashtags such as #FeesMustFall, #StopOutsourcing, and #RhodesMustFall have shaken the core of South Africas universities, and some TVET colleges, disrupting the academic project and administrative functions. Students have forcefully voiced legitimate demands related to the trauma of runaway costs of studying, irrelevant curricula, institutional racism, and other academic and social ills. In some institutions, such as the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), there is talk of a student protest culture, which perpetually threatens the stability of the university, and its academic project.
Against this, TUT themed its institutional student affairs conference of May 2017 "Repositioning Student Affairs and Extracurricular Development to effectively contribute towards advancing stability at TUT". This is an edited version of an address given by Dr Luescher at the conference as a contribution to shifting the narrative from a preoccupation with crisis, to critical self-reflection and practical response.