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Haven't heard about South Africa's gripping protests? 11 quick points will get you up to speed.

An amazing thing happened in South Africa this month when the government tried to raise university tuition.

Students fought back. And they won.


A demonstration against fee hikes in Johannesburg on Oct. 22, 2015. Photo by Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images.

Over the past few weeks, thousands of students flooded the streets, voicing their frustration with a proposed hike in tuition fees. The movement gained steam when the hashtag #FeesMustFall started trending on Twitter. Next stop: some serious international attention for their cause.

The student movement became so vocal and widespread that on Oct. 23, 2015, South African President Jacob Zuma agreed to freeze tuition increases at public universities for the next year.

That's right: They fought, and they won. For all of you students in the U.S. (or anywhere in the world) facing a mountain of student-loan debt, this is a pretty inspiring moment.

The protests are about way more than just college costs, though, and we'll get to that in a minute.

Here are the 11 things you need to know about the movement (and why it isn't over yet):

1. It all started at Johannesburg's University of the Witwatersrand (known as "Wits") after a proposed a tuition hike.

Students were outraged when the government proposed a 10.5% fee increase.

A young woman marches through the Wits campus on Oct. 21. Photo by Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images.

2. Protesters were particularly upset because they felt the higher costs would disproportionately affect black students.

South Africa may have overcome apartheid in 1994, but that didn't lead to economic equality between races. According to South Africa's 2011 census, the average annual income for black households amounted to roughly $8,700, which was about one-sixth of what white households earned.

The New York Times reports that tuition at Wits ranged from $2,400 to $3,500 in 2015. And some other public universities in South Africa are more expensive.

Protesters on the Wits campus. Photo by Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images.

3. There was a serious ripple effect, with classes at several universities canceled due to demonstrations.

The cancellations were especially disruptive because exams were set to begin in the coming weeks. Some universities remained closed at the start of the week.


4. The protests weren't always peaceable.

On Oct. 21, police fired tear gas at students who stormed the gates of the country's parliament in Cape Town. During a rally two days later outside government offices in Pretoria — the country's de facto capital — a small group of demonstrators threw rocks at police, and authorities responded with stun guns and water cannons.

Most recently, police fired stun grenades and arrested a student during a protest at Wits on Oct. 28.

Students from the University of Cape Town clash with police after they forced their way into the South African parliament on Oct. 21. Photo by Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty Images.

5. Three women are leaders in the protest movement — and are winning admiration.

The incoming student council president at Wits, Nompendulo Mkhatshwa, has been a leading voice of the movement.

"The youth have been saying that a revolution is coming, and indeed we are at the door of it if not in it already," she told Destiny Man, a South African men's magazine.

A series of three mini-profiles in South Africa's City Press highlights the work of Mkhatshwa alongside two other leaders: Shaeera Kalla, the outgoing student council president at Wits, and Jodi Williams, a political science student at Stellenbosch University.

“In social justice movements, most of the time leadership positions are hijacked by men," she told City Press. "We are turning the tables."



6. This is about more than just tuition.

In March, students at the University of Cape Town defaced a statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes and went on to protest until it was removed from campus. The goal? Student activists feel it's time to "decolonize" education throughout the country, and the current demonstrations are a part of that movement.

The statue is removed on April 9. Photo by Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty Images.

Photo by Charlie Shoemaker/Getty Images.

7. Youth activists want these protests to make history.

Students called the Oct. 23 march on Pretoria "historic." And with more than 10,000 demonstrators attending, they might just be right.

Writing for CNN, Wits graduate Basani Baloyi and researcher Gilad Isaacs compared the action to an apartheid-era youth uprising in Soweto, a black urban enclave in Johannesburg, where students fought a landmark battle for educational rights.

"Not since the Soweto Uprising of 1976 have this many youth arisen to demand the right to quality and accessible education."


8. The economic divide is a big part of the problem.

University fee increases are nothing new in South Africa; BBC reports that annual tuition hikes in South Africa range between 7% and 14%. But broader economic factors could be playing a part in students getting tired of those ongoing increases.

Since the fall of apartheid, the incomes of whites and Asians have grown significantly while black incomes have been "nearly flat," according to Pew Research Center.

Students from Stellenbosch University protest against fee hikes on Oct. 23. Photo by Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty Images.

9. The protests could provide a boost to opposition political parties.

Since the end of apartheid, the African National Congress has pretty much run the show when it comes to South African politics. Now, opposition groups are hoping to capitalize on the frustrations of protesters and make headway during municipal elections next year.

A sign outside the ACN headquarters on Oct. 22. Photo by Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images.

10. This movement has spread far beyond South Africa.

Supporters of the movement have gathered in London, New York, and even Duke University in North Carolina.




11. The students? They aren't done yet.

President Zuma announced on Oct. 23 that he would freeze fees, which is a major victory for the movement:

"Government understands the difficulty faced by students from poor households and urges all affected to allow the process to unfold to find long-term solutions in order to ensure access to education by all students."

But some students are vowing to continue their activism until the government provides free education to all South Africans.


Even if the #FeesMustFall movement cools down in the days ahead, this doesn't look like the end of youth activism in South Africa.

There is an enormous economic divide along racial lines in South Africa right now. And until that's been addressed in a more comprehensive way, young people will continue to demand justice.

Pop Culture

Airbnb host finds unexpected benefits from not charging guests a cleaning fee

Host Rachel Boice went for a more "honest" approach with her listings—and saw major perks because of it.

@rachelrboice/TikTok

Many frustrated Airbnb customers have complained that the separate cleaning fee is a nuisance.

Airbnb defines its notorious cleaning fee as a “one-time charge” set by the host that helps them arrange anything from carpet shampoo to replenishing supplies to hiring an outside cleaning service—all in the name of ensuring guests have a “clean and tidy space.”

But as many frustrated Airbnb customers will tell you, this feature is viewed as more of a nuisance than a convenience. According to NerdWallet, the general price for a cleaning fee is around $75, but can vary greatly between listings, with some units having cleaning fees that are higher than the nightly rate (all while sometimes still being asked to do certain chores before checking out). And often none of these fees show up in the total price until right before the booking confirmation, leaving many travelers feeling confused and taken advantage of.

However, some hosts are opting to build cleaning fees into the overall price of their listings, mimicking the strategy of traditional hotels.

Rachel Boice runs two Airbnb properties in Georgia with her husband Parker—one being this fancy glass plane tiny house (seen below) that promises a perfect glamping experience.

@rachelrboice Welcome to The Tiny Glass House 🤎 #airbnbfinds #exploregeorgia #travelbucketlist #tinyhouse #glampingnotcamping #atlantageorgia #fyp ♬ Aesthetic - Tollan Kim

Like most Airbnb hosts, the Boice’s listing showed a nightly rate and separate cleaning fee. According to her interview with Insider, the original prices broke down to $89 nightly, and $40 for the cleaning fee.

But after noticing the negative response the separate fee got from potential customers, Rachel told Insider that she began charging a nightly rate that included the cleaning fee, totaling to $129 a night.

It’s a marketing strategy that more and more hosts are attempting in order to generate more bookings (people do love feeling like they’re getting a great deal) but Boice argued that the trend will also become more mainstream since the current Airbnb model “doesn’t feel honest.”

"We stay in Airbnbs a lot. I pretty much always pay a cleaning fee," Boice told Insider. "You're like: 'Why am I paying all of this money? This should just be built in for the cost.'"

Since combining costs, Rachel began noticing another unexpected perk beyond customer satisfaction: guests actually left her property cleaner than before they were charged a cleaning fee. Her hypothesis was that they assumed she would be handling the cleaning herself.

"I guess they're thinking, 'I'm not paying someone to clean this, so I'll leave it clean,'" she said.

This discovery echoes a similar anecdote given by another Airbnb host, who told NerdWallet guests who knew they were paying a cleaning fee would “sometimes leave the place looking like it’s been lived in and uncleaned for months.” So, it appears to be that being more transparent and lumping all fees into one overall price makes for a happier (and more considerate) customer.

These days, it’s hard to not be embittered by deceptive junk fees, which can seem to appear anywhere without warning—surprise overdraft charges, surcharges on credit cards, the never convenience “convenience charge” when purchasing event tickets. Junk fees are so rampant that certain measures are being taken to try to eliminate them outright in favor of more honest business approaches.

Speaking of a more honest approach—as of December 2022, AirBnb began updating its app and website so that guests can see a full price breakdown that shows a nightly rate, a cleaning fee, Airbnb service fee, discounts, and taxes before confirming their booking.

Guests can also activate a toggle function before searching for a destination, so that full prices will appear in search results—avoiding unwanted financial surprises.


This article originally appeared on 11.08.23

National Autistic Society/Youtube

"Diverted" educational video shared through the Too Much Information Campaign.

Everyone who lives with autism experiences it somewhat differently. You'll often hear physicians and advocates refer to the spectrum that exists for those who are autistic, pointing to a wide range of symptoms and skills.

But one thing many autistic people experience is sensory processing issues.


For autistic people, processing the world around them when it comes to sight, smell, or touch can be challenging, as their senses are often over- or under-sensitive. Certain situations — like meandering through a congested mall or enduring the nonstop blasting of police sirens — can quickly become unbearable.

This reality is brought to life in a new video by the U.K.'s National Autistic Society (NAS).

The eye-opening PSA takes viewers into the mind of a autistic woman as she thinks about struggling to stay composed in a crowded, noisy train.

It's worth a watch:

The PSA hit especially close to home for 22-year-old actress and star of the video Saskia Lupin, who is autistic herself. "Overall I feel confused," she said, of abrupt changes to her routine. "Like I can't do anything and all sense of rationality is lost."

She's not alone.

According to a study cited in NAS' press release, 75% of autistic people say unexpected changes make them feel socially isolated. What's more, 67% reported seeing or hearing negative reactions from the public when they try to calm themselves down in such situations — from eyerolls and stares to unwelcome, hurtful comments.

The new PSA aims to improve that last figure in particular.

It's part of the organization's Too Much Information campaign — an initiative to build empathy and understanding in allistic (i.e., not autistic) people for those on the spectrum.

Autism Awareness Day, campaign, World Autism Awareness Week

Campaign by National Autistic Society created to share the autistic experience to the world.

Photo from Pixabay

"It isn't that the public sets out to be judgmental towards autistic people," Mark Lever, chief executive of the NAS, said in a statement in 2016. It's just that, often, the public doesn't "see" the autism.

"They see a 'strange' man pacing back and forth in a shopping center," Lever explained, "or a 'naughty' girl having a tantrum on a bus, and don't know how to respond."

Well, now we do.

Instead of staring, rolling your eyes, or thinking judgmental thoughts about the young person's parents, remember: You have no idea what that stranger on the train is going through.

“We can't make the trains run on time," said Lever. But even the simplest, smallest things — like remembering not to stare and giving a person some space and compassion if they need it — can make a big difference.


This article originally appeared on 03.28.18

Pop Culture

A brave fan asks Patrick Stewart a question he doesn't usually get and is given a beautiful answer

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through.

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through. However, how he answered this vulnerable and brave fan's question is one of the most eloquent, passionate responses about domestic violence I've ever seen.



WARNING: At 2:40, he's going to break your heart a little.

You can read more about Heather Skye's hug with Captain Picard at her blog.


This article originally appeared on 06.26.13.


How to clear a stuffy nose instantly.

With cold season upon us, there's no better time to learn a couple of awesome and easy tricks that will clear up the dreaded and annoying stuffy nose.

Prevention magazine created a short video showing two easy ways to get you breathing free again no matter how stuffed up you might be.


Both tricks take less than two minutes and are certainly worth trying out when it feels like that runny nose might never go away.


Watch the YouTube video below:

This article first appeared on 9.8.17.

Family

Heartwarming comics break down complex parenting issues with ease

Lunarbaboon comics tackle huge, important subjects with an effective, lighthearted touch that you can't help but smile at.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

Writing comics helped a father struggling with anxiety and depression.

Christopher Grady, a father and teacher from Toronto, was struggling with anxiety and depression. That's when he started drawing.

He describes his early cartoons and illustrations as a journal where he'd chronicle everyday moments from his life as a husband, elementary school teacher, and father to two kids.

"I needed a positive place to focus all my thoughts and found that when I was making comics I felt a little bit better," he says.

He began putting a few of his comics online, not expecting much of a response. But he quickly learned that people were connecting with his work in a deep way.


The comics series called Lunarbaboon was born, and the response to the first few was so powerful that Grady was inspired do more with his comics than just document his own experience.

"I began getting messages from many people about how they connected to the comics and it gave them hope and strength as they went through their own dark times," he says.

"When they look back…they probably won't remember what was said…or where you were when you said it. They may not remember any details of your time together. But they will remember that you were there…and that's what matters most."

"Usually the circle of people we can support, help, influence is limited to our families, friends, coworkers, random stranger at the bus stop, but with my comic I suddenly found my circle of power was much much larger," Grady explains. "I guess I decided to use this power for good."

Grady continued to draw, making a point to infuse the panels with his own special brand of positivity.

"Kids are always watching adults and they look to the adults as role models," he says. "I try to show (my kids and students) that even with all my flaws and weaknesses I am still a good person and I can still make a positive change in the world."

Lunarbaboon comics tackle huge, important subjects with an effective, lighthearted touch that you can't help but smile at.

Check out Grady's take on teaching his son about consent. (All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission.)

consent, relationship advice, father son advice, family

A comic about listening and respecting your partner.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

Here's one about parents being supportive of a gay son or daughter.

sexual orientation, parenting gay children, positive messages, gender orientation

Parents being supportive of their gay son.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

On raising girls in a patriarchal world.

adulting, education, medical field, dreams

Comic encourages girls to chase all their dreams.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

And here's a sweet one about appreciating the heck out of his wife.

motherhood, moms, childbirth, family

Mom one ups dad easily.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

Big topics. Important issues. Grady tackles them with humility and ease.

As Lunarbaboon has continued to grow, Grady says the messages of support he gets have become increasingly powerful.

He certainly doesn't claim to have all the answers to all the complexities of parenting, but he does say that "people like knowing they aren't alone in life's daily struggles. Most people who contact me just want to say thank you for putting something positive into the world."

Grady doesn't expect his Lunarbaboon comics to fix rape culture or end bigotry. He just hopes his message of love, inclusion, and positivity continues to spread.

inclusion, gender roles, social anxiety, happy

Teaching children to accept what might be different.

All images by Christopher Grady/Lunarbaboon, used with permission

"My hope is that for the short time people read it they smile and feel good," he says. "Then I hope they take that good feeling and smile into the world and make it slightly brighter."

You can check out even more of Grady's awesome work over on his website or in his newly published book.


This article was originally published on 11.30.17