South Africa

Letter to Editor: UCT’s SRC needs support as the academic year begins

By Daily Maverick 12 March 2017

The new UCT academic year starts on Monday, March 13. After a rough ride over the past 18 months, the Students Representative Council (SRC) needs every support it can get from the students and academics alike on the campus. This is a motion in support of the SRC by the UCT Alumni, celebrating the positive impact that they have had during very difficult times, proposed by Laurence Gawronsky.

UCT alumnus Laurence Gawronsky has presented a motion to be tabled at the UCT Alumni AGM to be held in the Kramer Building on the Middle Campus on Wednesday evening. Details of this motion are:

The Students Representative Council Assistance Fund has awarded grants to 89 students whose dreams of education would have otherwise ended. This fund has grown in assisting students, cultivating good governance, improving efficiency and generating real social impact. This past year the SRC set a new record for their fundraising efforts, raising R2.8-million – seven times what had been raised in previous years. It helped three times the students compared to the year before, doubled the SRC Assistance Fund’s average award to R35,000 and made the world of a difference to those 89 students and their families.

One student wrote, “Thank you very much! You have no idea how much this means to me and my family. You have allowed me to follow my dream of continuing to study. I owe the SRC an enormous debt of gratitude.”

The SRC also held close to 1,000 “one to one” meetings with individual students to assist and advise on problems that students were encountering. Furthermore, the SRC held campaigns on sexual harassment and assault, held student workshops and forums on transformation and decolonisation and also re-engineered policies and practices throughout the Department of Student Affairs. The current SRC have found themselves serving an extended term of service due to the SRC elections being cancelled. This as a result of the adverse political climate of protests on campus late last year. Some facts:

  • Of the 17 SRC members initially elected to serve from November 1, 2015 only six completed their year in office and four are currently still with the SRC in an extended term of office together with six co-opted members.
  • When the 2015 SRC was due to be constituted they were harassed and taunted for over an hour and were not able to take office for over a month.
  • During their term the SRC was also subject to taunting, harassment and insults on social media.
  • On October 4 a group of protesting students smashed down the glass doors of the SRC Offices in the Steve Biko Building which were occupied for an extended period. SRC members had their property and office furniture vandalised and personal items stolen. The SRC still does not have access to their original designated offices, five months later.

Motion for UCT Alumni Association two

Students who run for the Students Representative Council are passionate about the issues that affect them, but have been adversely affected by the laissez-faire attitude of the Department of Student Affairs (DSA) towards the SRC and student governance. In doing so, the DSA has left the SRC exposed to trauma and violence which undermined their operations, continuity, and the legitimacy of the current elected SRC. There have been 19 resignations from the SRC over the past year, including a number who felt that they were not being supported by UCT and the Department of Student Affairs, more specifically. DM

Photo: Students march and sing during a protest in support of the #FeesMustFall movement at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, 19 October 2016. EPA/NIC BOTHMA