South Park Self

their children's hell will slowly go by

This is currently my favourite random image in the stream which flows incessantly and sometimes repetitively over Tumblr:

Damn, it has anxiety. In particular, it has anxiety if it's a student whose exams have just been summarily relocated by two weeks. You would not believe the degree of chaos incurred for the workings of plane tickets, travel arrangements generally, accommodation, planned holidays, planned vac work, parental travel plans for graduation, and interesting new religious conflicts. (Diwali). The conceptual high-water-anxiety-mark on the walls of my office is higher than it's ever been. I have spent the bulk of the last two weeks soothing students, often through the medium of cut-and-paste, because there's a limit to my ability to be originally soothing twenty times in a row.

However, the protests seem to be (touch wood) over: the students, bless them, have pretty much swept the board with achieving their goals (0% fee increase for next year; university commitment to insourcing; lifting of interdicts and dropping of charges against protesters; a ban on police on campus). How the hell we're going to finance all of the above is another story entirely, the government is going to be a broken reed in this department, I can tell you right now. But I'm back in my office, at least, and none of my plants died, and the level of office-renovatory chaos is at least no greater than it was before the involuntary two-week freeze, and we have dates for rescheduled exams so I can start allaying anxieties in a slightly more concrete fashion.

These student protests were, I think, necessary, and certainly powerful, and in the long run have a chance to materially improve the lot of our most disadvantaged and financially precarious students. There's a cost, though. And while a middle-class student is likely to be able to absorb a R4000 airline ticket reschedule, or pay for accommodation for an extra two weeks or to write a supp, our poorest students won't be able to. If we have to fling sacrifices into the maw of the political volcano god, it seems particularly cruel to have selected for these ones.

(My subject line is still "Teach your children well", incidentally. Because it's still relevant).
It's always the poorest who suffer. Not that that is any consolation, or reason why they should. Mind you, some governments actually target them - like ours is currently trying to do! Only having been told by the House of Lords to 'go and have a good think about these welfare changes' it is now also trying to target the Upper House - all in a fit of pique!