The Residence of the Year competition could be canceled next year according to a proposal written by the Director of Residence Affairs and Accommodation, Professor Roelf Visser.
The proposal states that “the decision has been taken by the Office of the Director: Residence Affairs and Accommodation to remove the Residence of the Year competition as from 2013 – to offer residences the opportunity to better align themselves with the UP and TuksRes Strategic Plan 2025.”
According to the proposal, “This structure (the Residence of the Year competition) is putting unnecessary pressure on first year students to participate (as activities are mostly compulsory).”
In contrast, Curlitzia Primaria Mignon du Toit told Perdeby that participation in res activities is always by choice. Du Toit said that the Residence of the Year competition measures the success of the HK and residences, and although Curlitzia has won Residence of the Year for the past two years it does not overshadow other individual events. Du Toit added that removing the Residence of the Year competition “will detract from the student experience since everything will basically be ‘for the fun of it’ and have no added purpose.” She feared that less effort will be put into planning events. She said that, “[Fewer] people will participate and morale in a residence will dip when you have nothing to show for the effort you put in,” but added that, “the added pressure of the competition does make it very difficult to [only] focus on the event [when] planning [for it]. When everything is done with this competition in mind, every setback becomes a much bigger issue than it should be allowed to become.”
Similarly Jacquelise de Vries, Vividus Ladies Primaria, said that the Residence of the Year competition promotes balance in students’ lives. Although day houses do not compete in the competition De Vries said that, “Should the competition be removed, students might be focused only on what they are truly interested in, opposed to trying new things that they are encouraged to take part in, essentially detracting from the overall student experience.”
The SRC has also taken a stand against the removal of the Residence of the Year competition. Mthokozisi Nkosi, SRC President, told Perdeby that “residence students should be assured that the SRC will not let the student life experience of our residence students, or any other student for that matter, to be taken away.” He added, “While we ‘understand’ the arguments put forward that the respective residences commitment to this Residence of the Year competition might interfere with the university’s academic programme (this is a futile and invalid argument by the way), the university management needs to understand that Tuks is not a monastery, we also want to have time to recreate and have fun as young people.”
Similarly, SRC Deputy President Gerbrand Lindeque urged university management to consider and listen to student opinions before making a decision.
At a student parliament sitting last week Wednesday, parliament voted to keep the Residence of the Year competition.
Nkosi told Perdeby that it was suggested by some members of parliament that the university should try to improve the Residence of the Year competition by placing a stronger focus on education rather than removing it completely.
According to Prof. Visser, discussions to remove this residence structure are still in progress and will be followed up with further discussions with the student service providers (Stuku, TuksSport and Rag) and other student life role players at the next Senate Committee for Student Life meeting.