In their protest against hostel fee hike in the online space, the one hashtag that the JNUSU has been using constantly is #FeesMustFall. The inspiration for that came from the Fees Must Fall (FMF) movement that began in South Africa in 2015 to protest hike in fees in universities and demanding more government funding in higher education,
On Friday, Fasiha Hassan, one of the leaders of the FMF movement who was also awarded the Students Peace Prize — first established in 1999 by Norwegian students — this year, was at the JNU campus to lend solidarity.
By addressing students at the Administrative Block, she defied orders by the JNU Registrar who sent her a letter, also marked to the South African embassy, which said, “You are requested not to address the said meeting as its venue falls in the close vicinity of Administrative Block of JNU, which is a prohibited area within the University campus for holding such activity.”
While there was some initial apprehension over whether she would be speaking, Hassan ultimately decided to address the students.“We had gathered just as you have gathered now to fight for free and accessible education. In South Africa, education is expensive. People get the education they can afford, not the education they deserve… At every forefront of change, it’s the young people who have led it… It was young people at Tahrir Square, it was young people at Black Lives Matter, it was young people at Fees Must Fall and it’s young people here at JNU that will change the status quo,” she said.
“You are not alone. From Johannesburg in South Africa to Tahrir Square in Egypt to Beirut in Lebanon, all across the world, young people like us are changing the world. Do not be disheartened, it’s going to be tough… but we must continue to fight,” she said.
David Kabwa, Student Representative Council (SRC) president of the University of Victoria, was also there to lend solidarity. “In South Africa, there was a movement called Fees Must Fall. Hassan was one of the biggest leaders… The thing that encouraged those students was that they knew what they were doing is right. They knew if they were able to get up and speak, those that came after them would benefit. I have benefited from the work that they have done,” he said.
“We are here to remind you that this is happening to young people all over the world. Remember you are not alone, remember that it has been done before. Fasiha has shown us that it can be done,” Kabwa added.