- Published on Tuesday, 27 September 2011 11:03
- Written by VARSITY 2011
C+ (for communication):
This year’s SRC failed to communicate with students and several members admitted they could have and should have done more. Information about their activities were absent and their Vula tab was mostly inactive; only seven announcements were posted for the year.
On the few occasions that students were emailed, certain members chose to abuse this tool to do damage control for electoral campaigns. There were individual acts of brilliance, such as “To Whom Does UCT Belong?”, the “Change Campaign”, the “Earn Your Stripes” campaign, and in the raising of significant funds.
However, the 2011 SRC was divided and party politics were rife; one member stated that the SRC was “working at less than half of [its] potential.” While there were some star performers, their progress was stifled by sub-standard performance from others. It should be recognised that many positions may be ambiguous or limiting, but it does not hurt to think outside the box.
The SRC Report Card is an annual VARSITY project that is conducted to assess the performance of each year’s outgoing SRC. The Report Card is conducted in an open and inclusive manner. All information presented in these reports has been sourced from the SRC members themselves, council members, staff and students they have worked with in their capacity as members of the SRC.
VARSITY reserves the right to summarise and comment on the information provided by the SRC members and external sources, which resulted in the above grades. The SRC refused to provide peer reviews for this process, as have been provided in years past. Every effort was made to remain objective and fair in conducting this process.
As SRC President, Amanda Ngwenya’s overriding goal was to create a public profile for the SRC while responding to student challenges within. She has been published in various publications.
Ngwenya took a step further and engaged with other SRCs, including the UKZN SRC, about strikes. She has worked with the Wits SRC on the reformation of South African Union of Students, and has liaised with Stellenbosch University to establish a virtual dayhouse system at UCT. While Ngwenya managed to successfully uplift the SRC public profile off-campus, her policies were not student-centric. She assisted with many campus campaigns, but did not have any projects or campaigns of her own within UCT.
The SRC Ngwenya led was often divided and this came across in Student Assembly sittings. She acknowledged this, and stated that while she is SRC President, the image of the SRC amongst students rests on the shoulders of each member, and urged students to hold the SRC accountable.
Ngwenya was criticised of having an autocratic leadership style, and was described as “leading a factional SRC.” Ngwenya’s term was characterised by her many speeches and writing, and not by her engagement with students.
Vice President Internal
Degree: BusSci, Law and Economics
Kathleen Taylor has worked hard this year, juggling internal issues such as conflict and discipline within the SRC as well as sitting on many sub-councils and university committees as VPI. She has worked closely with many of the development agencies and has stretched beyond her portfolio to take on additional projects, such as improving the supplementary exam system in the Sciences, EBE and Commerce faculties.
Taylor has fulfilled the majority her goals and gone beyond the call of duty at times to ensure that things run smoothly and professionally in her capacity. Her introduction of the Change Campaign this year that was very successful in achieving its goals, but “there is room to grow,” said Taylor.
A low point from her perspective was the lack of communication between the SRC and the student body about the achievements of the student council, as well as the rejection of the discipline policy for the SRC. Overall, Taylor has excelled within her position – laying the groundwork for future SRC members to carry on with and expand on once she has stepped down from her position.
Vice President External
SRC constitutional amendments, international student merit scholarships, and the fee proposal are but a few of the defining points of Jessica Price’s term of office. Price has been described by others as doing “a great deal to try and understand the finance issues at UCT.”
The SRC constitutional amendments, which Price spearheaded, led to the creation of two new positions on the body and the approval from the Minister of Higher of Education. Price is the liaison between the SRC and international students and has achieved a significant change by campaigning for the extension of merit-based scholarships to international students. This was born from a concern raised in the “To Whom Does UCT Belong?” discussions, which Price initiated.
Price took up the issue and was successful in having the policy changed. However, Price was not able to organise the local government election debate she had hoped to host this year. This was due to conflicting schedules of stakeholders in the election process, she claimed.
Price has received positive reviews from those with whom she has worked, and when asked about her portfolio objectives, she said she had completed these by approximately April. This allowed her to take on extra projects she had not initially envisioned, to great success as in the case of the international students merit scholarships.
Degree: BCom Management Studies
Aboobaker Kalla appears to have held a successful term in office. His skill and ability in his role as treasurer were noticeable from the beginning of the year. From January to late February he worked with the student bailout assistance process, enabling many students to return to UCT to continue their studies.
A quieter member of the SRC, his achievements may have, at times, gone unnoticed by the student community. Kalla attended most of his committee meetings and contributed well to the meetings. The response from committees he worked on was positive, especially in regard to the fact that Treasurer is a hard portfolio to manage. However, in his year in office, the SRC treasurer did not manage to complete all of his portfolio objectives. Some he had to hand on to others to manage, such as the expansion of Jammie Plaza events to satellite campuses.
Kalla also didn’t manage to set up a platform for the facilitation of student entrepreneurship; this will be left for next year’s SRC treasurer to complete. Although some of his portfolio objectives were not completed, the projects he has worked towards have, largely, been a success.
Degree: BA, English and Politics
Sean Darge’s role as Secretary-General can be hard to qualify because it is a highly administrative role that deals with issues as they appear. Darge’s job includes ensuring the communication of SRC policies and actions to the student body, creating free-flowing internal communication, keeping track of university committees, and relaying issues to SRC members.
Darge has assisted in several projects during his term in office, such as the SRC constitutional review, the expansion of Jammie Shuttle routes, investigating shuttle problems, and the “Change Campaign”. Darge has gone beyond his role as Secretary-General on occasions during his term, having at times replaced the President at Council when she was unable to attend. Some of those who have interacted with Sean from outside of the SRC have found his manner helpful and informative.
However, Darge has come into criticism for often only pursuing those avenues that are in his direct interest and for not fulfilling one of his primary roles as Secretary-General: communicating with the student body on behalf of the SRC. Organisational reports were hard to come by for students, and many SRC members mentioned a lack of communication with the student body as a failure of the SRC this year. Given that this appears to be Darge’s responsibility, it is a blight on his record as Secretary-General.
Chair of Academics
Degree: BCom, Information Systems
Isaacs took on one of the biggest portfolios in her first year of study at the university. She admitted that at times she was “overwhelmed” by the position and had to deal with ad hoc issues that were not necessarily too influential in overall academic performance at the university.
Her C3 (Comment, Compliment, Criticise) project broadened the accessibility of academic representatives at UCT to students through the hosting of workshops and discussion times with herself, faculty councils, and class representatives. Additionally, she has been involved in the restructuring of the First Year Experience, which UCT has adopted as an initiative. Academic Development Programme and readmitted students are of particular concern to Isaacs, who says she has secured support from most faculties to encourage leadership amongst ADP students.
Additionally, she has laid the foundation for a Readmission Support System at UCT to assist readmitted students through workshops, etc. throughout the year. Isaacs admits communication breaks with faculty councils at times, and says she was not able to host as many joint faculty ventures as she would have hoped.
Degree: BCom, PPE
Mark Schoeman served as Deputy Secretary-General on the SRC for 2011. He admirably fulfilled his minute-keeping responsibilities on the Student Assembly Management Committee and organised the Student Leaders’ Dinner.
He also participated in administrating the SRC Student Bailout Fund. Schoeman stated one of his goals was the creation of UCTube, which mimics YouTube. This would allow for UCT-related videos to be posted on the site.
This project failed due to a lack of funding, says Schoeman. He is to be commended for his self-initiated SRC Internship Programme which allowed for students to better understand and get involved in the work of the SRC. It also serves as a means for students to gain relevant SRC experience; five members of Schoeman’s internship programme ran for the current SRC elections.
Degree: Postgraduate Law
In a year spent as Societies Co-ordinator, Alex Spoor says that his proudest achievement was fighting for revision of the residence catering tender process. Going against the Dept. of Student Affairs, he says, put him under immense pressure. He was also involved in revitalising the formerly defunct Student Societies Organisational Council and amending the SRC constitution.
Despite his successes he is, however, quick to point out – frequently – that he has failed in certain respects. He admits that he was not always well enough prepared and organised to effectively perform his tasks, and not using the student body to facilitate change within the university. Spoor also regrets not being more vocal. He is, in the words of one of his colleagues, a “firebrand speaker,” and not shy to court controversy when he needs to get his point across. Spoor stands by the instances that gained him this reputation.
While Spoor worked hard on the tender process, he is seen by some as neglecting his own portfolio, and did not really achieve anything that went above and beyond his ordinary duties.
Health, Safety and Security Co-ordinator
Degree: BSocSci, Sociology & Politics
Paraffin’s portfolio consisted of three intended goals for her term of office; focusing on HIV/Aids awareness, awareness of sexual violence and campus safety and security. Although she endorsed projects such as the HIV/Aids testing drives on campus, this was mostly on behalf of the SRC and did not require direct organisation or involvement from her portfolio. Examples include the Chase 911 (E9 mobile response service) initiative which was constructed and proposed to UCT management from an outside company, and the HIV/Aids testing campaign, which was organised by HAICU and Student Wellness.
She was criticised by other SRC members as well as members of the sub-councils on which she sat for failing to attend meetings, or not adequately contributing to meetings when she did attend. Her performance as an SRC member in terms of commitment to meetings and student assembly has been lacking, and her communication with the student body was less than adequate. There was potential for her to grow her portfolio as her three goals are important to UCT students, but this was not utilised.
Paraffin has been working on two upcoming projects: a Vula tab for students, informing them of the services at Student Wellness and a sexual violence and prevention project, which is due to run from 4–14 October this year, but this project was still to come at the time of going to press.
Degree: BCom, Economics
Lethu Shange admits that he had to miss a few of his goals because certain challenges stood in his way. He encountered conflict with teammates but described this as constructive. Shange describes the SRC members as being supportive of contributions made and successful seminars held; “Black Rights, White Fears.”
Although the Transformation council is quite broad, Shange is confident that he fulfilled the role to the best of his ability. However, some objectives failed to be fulfilled. He explains that Transformation Month had less of an impact this year because it was aimed at changing the mind-set of the staff instead of the students. The idea of attending to the university’s structure was admirable, but the execution appeared poor.
Shange’s goal to issue study packs to UCT applicants and other prospective students was unsuccessful because of challenges preventing the access of the study material needed. The communication with external groups who were claiming copyright proved to be the main reason for the project’s failure.
Entertainment & Fundraising Co-ordinator
Degree: BCom, PPE
Ross Hare’s performance this year was characterised by a quiet efficiency and determination. Hare managed to raise almost R500 000 from Plaza events and from corporate sponsorship, totalling more than what was raised in previous years’ fundraising; most of this went towards the SRC Bailout Fund. Hare also recovered R110 000 of outstanding debts and managed to effectively balance having a large corporate presence with having a student presence, although he did receive some criticism from some quarters for “making Jammie too corporate.”
Hare brought popular bands like AKA, Goodluck and Plush to campus and helped plan the Ikeys’ Varsity Cup victory celebrations. In addition to this, Hare took steps to start Jammie Wednesdays and Jammie Fridays on the Medical and Hiddingh Campuses respectively. The implementation of these programmes suffered a few teething problems, put down to lack of support from students, but Hare leaves behind a solid base for the next Entertainment Co-ordinator to build upon.
Degree: BA, Politics and Film
Kim Senogles only took over the Sport portfolio midway through the first semester. Her performance was admirable, and she was responsible for transforming a rather sidelined portfolio. She initiated the “Earn Your Stripes” campaign, which aimed to promote all UCT sports and encourage student support for sports.
This campaign even saw the UCT rugby team going to watch soccer games, and vice versa. Senogles also initiated a blog and ran a Twitter account on behalf of UCT sports, and tried to feature regular updates of fixtures and results. While rugby receives backing from the Varsity Cup and sponsors, other sports at UCT get little funding. Senogles tried to implement marketing campaigns for other clubs to assist them in obtaining sponsorships as well.
However, Senogles’ performance as Dayhouses Co-ordinator (her initial portfolio) in the first five months of the SRC’s term was characterised by insipidity and lack of focus, with no functioning Dayhouses Council formed. While Senogles’ work in the Sports performance should be lauded, her work as Dayhouses Co-ordinator appears to have left much to be desired.
Degree: BCom, Economics and Finance
Of primary concern to Khanya Gwaza as Residences Co-ordinator was to fix residence place allocation problems for both old and new students; he was successful in campaigning for post-graduate students to be considered for third-tier residences.
With regard to crisis accommodation, 60 students were allocated places and then received permanent residence thereafter. Gwaza fell short in some areas by not attending many Residence Council meetings, and appearing absent from duties at times; attendance at these meetings was considered a requirement of his position.
He also failed to follow through with the ideas and vision that he had before he was voted onto the SRC. Another issue was the renewal of the Fedics contract, which was not put out to tender as the SRC and students had hoped. However, Gwaza explained that the SRC was outweighed by management in this matter.
Degree: Honours in Criminal Justice
Sipe Mgqibi took on the position of Dayhouses Co-ordinator on 1 April after the SRC co-opted a new member to fill a vacancy. Mgqibi did not specify his weaknesses in his position, but explained that it was a challenge coming on to the SRC late.
One of Mgqibi’s successes includes his ensuring a higher-than-anticipated grant for Ikhaya Dayhouse for 2012. Mgqibi, along with the help of Nafisa Mayatand and his sub-council, successfully ran Disabilities Awareness Week from 22–26 August. Some of Mgqibi’s projects are upcoming, including the Day Students’ Formal – to be held at the end of October – and working with the Disability Unit to formulate a proposal for items that would ensure the upkeep of the dayhouse through the Hill Bequest Fund.
Given that he came on to the SRC late and minimal the position required a lot of work, Mgqibi has taken steps to make his mark on the position.
Media & Communications Co-ordinator
Ramothwala’s biggest failing was not that he did not do a good job or that he made horrible mistakes or offended anyone terribly. Rather, he was unfortunate enough to be assigned a portfolio which, considering the revised roles of the top SRC members, has become somewhat redundant. His achievements were mostly related to the increased visibility of the SRC, implemented via banners on campus and the sniper boards in residences. However, many residence students remain either unaware of these boards, or have not seen consistent updates on them.
Ramothwala worked closely with ICTS on the implementation of the new student email system and assisted with preventing DC++ from being permanently shut down. He does, however, stress that he cannot take full credit for that. This is part of the reason for his relatively low score: he never did anything particularly wrong, but he also never did anything particularly praiseworthy. As mentioned before, his portfolio seems to have very little scope or clout, but this is an opportunity to strive for goals beyond simply what needs to be done. Ramothwala simply did not do anything to distinguish himself.
(Images of Amanda Ngwenya, Mike Ramothwala, Aboobaker Kalla & Vimbai Paraffin were supplied by subjects.)
Reports compiled by: Nyasha Kadandara, Stephanie Venter, Lyndall Thwaits, Rhynhardt Krynauw, Sajjad Karamsi, Olivia Wainwright, Pasqua Heard & Alex Nagel.