The second “frustration in the lack of representation” comes in the form of our Serenade national representatives. I have worked with Sonop, I have friends from Sonop, and I do believe that there are individuals in the residence pushing hard to initiate change, but this does not stop me from disagreeing with their participation in Serenade and their role as UP representatives at nationals. This is based on their apparent lack of transformation. I keep asking myself: at what level do we have to make fair representation a prerequisite? I understand Stuku is a service provider and their job is to organise the event, and as long as the residence or day house adheres to their specified quota (for TuksRes residences, its 60/40 either way, but for other groups it differs as they are private or voluntary) they can participate. But is it time that Stuku start enforcing stricter representation, both physically and content-wise? Is it time for TuksRes to start distancing themselves from groups that can’t conform to the UP quota, or start aiding them in becoming more inclusive by placing a diverse group in the day house or residence? Is this an initiative that has to develop internally, from students and residences themselves? Is it time that we promote own compositions in other languages other than Afrikaans or bring another sponsor on board, one with the intention of developing other South African languages? Do we need to reassess our (currently, broad) definition of multiculturalism in the marking rubrics to ensure better inclusivity?

I believe there is effort being put in, but I do think that we need to clearly define the roleplayers and their roles so that one-sided efforts can be removed and a those that have not put in the effort are encouraged to take up their responsibilities.

For now though, the proof is in the pudding. While effort might be made, there’s still a lack of transformation. The most important question for me is, “Are we putting our best foot forward?” Is the campus newspaper really representing the students of UP? When outsiders read it, do they get a sense of the university and our readership? (Just to be clear, our target market is UP students and nothing other than that.) When students and parents watch the Serenade nationals in September, have we really sent the people that best represent our campus, not just in skill but also in how relatable they are to all students? Are we actually making an effort to transform or are we just paying lip service to the idea?

Maybe it would be interesting to note that the SRC of the University of the Free State has cut the ATKV sponsorship from its internal Serenade and will not participate at this year’s national Serenade competition. They have done this because they feel the ATKV’s language stipulation in both events caters only to a certain demographic of their students. Their internal Serenade now requires groups to use at least three national languages in their performance, and the own composition can be composed in any language. Maybe here, UFS is trumping us in effort and action.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter (see the empty letters section below) and I’d love to start a conversation (yes, Sonop, I’d like to hear your side of the story). I’m not sure what the answer is, but somewhere our talk needs to become effort and sometime our effort needs to become realised practice. Until then, I’ll remain always somewhat frustrated at the system.

Have a good week!

Michal

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