The University of the Western Cape hosted its first virtual inauguration ceremony for the 2020-2021 Student Representative Council (SRC).
The 12-member SRC was introduced to the campus community and undertook the oath of office.
In her opening remarks, Professor Pamela Dube, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Student Development and Support, congratulated the incoming leadership and said their office requires a clear plan and great people’s skills to support students during this time and collectively work together to address the challenges in constructive, critical ways.
She said the environment in which students live, relax and study should be conducive for the knowledge project and their success, while allowing students to express their talent, capabilities and abilities to make a difference as active citizens. These conditions, according to Prof Dube, should recognise the importance of academic success and developmental opportunities to produce graduates who have strong curricula and co-curricular strengths and attributes.
“ Never before have leaders had such high demands and expectations placed upon them. Part of what is critical is to understand, in more depth, where the university is and where it is going in order to locate your perspectives, critique and suggestions within a constantly changing environment. I look forward to your solution-oriented term in office, and we will certainly welcome your constructive criticism and feedback, especially when things are not moving at an ideal pace or display improvements. I wish you all the best and you are assured of our support to make sure that students are at the centre of our priorities.”
Welcoming the new SRC, UWC Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tyrone Pretorius, said along with his executive team he is confident that they will have a mutual respectful, cooperative and productive partnership with the new SRC. “You have been chosen to lead our student community at a very challenging time and certainly the challenges brought by COVID-19 will be with us for some time. Already our academic year is starting later than usual and we are yet to hear when we will have a fully operational campus life again,” said Prof Pretorius.
He explained that pandemic has demanded that the university change the way it does things and that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. “We are no longer waiting to return to what we knew as normal but rather adapting to our new normal. That means we must go beyond our normal structures and responses because our students require much more.”
He said many students lost loved ones to the pandemic while others have found their lives changed due to illness, unemployment and significant hardships in their families. “This is where your role is so valuable because you are in touch with the student community. You are able to identify those who are most vulnerable and together we can work towards helping them. Times such as these demand that we work together to ensure that no student is left behind. This year our priority must be to strengthen and refine the support structures that we already have in place. Be it food security, supplying technological assistance or the mental and physical health of our students.”
Sasha-Lee Douglas, outgoing SRC president, said she was grateful to have served UWC students with a collective of capable and committed comrades who ensured that despite difficult circumstances students were “protected, defended and well-advocated for”.
“I think what is important for us is to consider the historic nature and culture of this university, how that culture can be used to fight for student interest and why it is important to ensure that culture is protected, promoted and defended,” she said.
In-coming SRC president, Phumelelani Mshumi, said the tide of politics at the university would change and thanked previous students' leadership “who laid the ground for us to take charge today.”
“Looking critically at the inspiration of student activists who were the most uncompromising thinkers in South Africa, it is undoubted that it is the students’ unity that always brings about this type of change. It is never the SRC but students unifying in one voice, one mission and one banner,” said Mshumi.
“Without the students and workers' joint efforts, we are nothing. Without insourcing we are nothing. Without the uncompromising stance as the SRC in positions of responsibility, we are nothing. Without the success of the decolonising project, we are nothing. Comrades this thing is simply: it is students and workers mobility and freedom or nothing.”
Mshumi said their fight was not against any students’ allied forces or the work of the university but it was against the elements that derail the project of decolonisation. “To be unified means the work of the decolonisation project is in progress. Prominent action was the Fees Must Fall of 2015/2016. However, in enforcing the return to the left from Fees Must Fall, it is clear to us that fees have not, in fact, fallen. This SRC will thus be committed to advance the inspirations of decolonisation which centrally include the falling of fees”.
The full list of the 2020-21 SRC is as follows:
|Recreation& Cultural Officer||Zandile||Vava|
|Public Relations Officer||Ongeziwe||Magidigidi|
|Policy & Transformation Officer||Osama||EL-mowafi|
|Gender & Security Officer||Belindah||Gove|