2015-2016 SRC, still operating in 2017, what does it mean for the students, specifically the first years?
By: Kaitlin Byrne
A new year at UCT means a new wave of first years, a little lost and daunted by all the changes in their lives. Enter O-week which includes introductions to the aspects of UCT needed to make it through the year, including the SRC…the one part of UCT that hasn’t changed with the new year.
The current SRC was elected for the 2015-2016 year and has been running in continuum with no sign of the mandatory election taking place in the near future, until a recent email was finally sent to students with information regarding the election process.
Starting the next stage of your life is complicated enough without knowing that the body that represents your best interests and voices your concerns are operating in a way that goes against their constitution, which states that the SRC may only hold office from the 1st of November after they are elected until the 31st of October of the following year and that the SRC elections must take place annually in the manner set out by the Election Regulations.
As a first-year Humanities student in Orientation Programme 2, I experienced an instance of SRC negligence when I missed out on the chance to gain first-hand insight into the workings of the SRC when the representative failed to show up for their informative O-week slot. This created a borderline ineffective initial impression of the organisation and prevented first years from understanding why it has been allowed to operate in continuum. This is detrimental to the university as it might prevent them from placing their trust in the organisation.
It must however be said that the reason that SRC elections did not take place last year was in order to uphold the fairness of the election process. This decision was made by the Election Commission. An SRC candidate, Masixole Mlandu, was interdicted from entering campus due to his involvement in the Shackville protests. According to the Election Commission, this meant that the SRC “cannot fulfil its mandate to conduct free and fair elections” as Mlandu would not be afforded the same opportunity to campaign as other candidates who could campaign on campus.
If the first years had been informed of the reason for the delay in election then maybe their first impressions of the SRC would have been different. If they were able to understand that whilst the SRC is running unconstitutionally in continuum, they did so in order to provide a fair and equal election process for all candidates.
The motivations around the delay of elections should have been made more explicitly known (especially to first years) in order to maintain the respectable image of the SRC as well as maintain a communicative relationship between students and the SRC.