When it comes to getting involved in university life, the University of Pretoria has something to offer for every student, from day houses to faculty houses, to all the societies in between. Being part of a structure not only gives students the opportunity to make friends and take part in events, it also provides students with various opportunities to learn and improve certain skills.

Faculty houses

The SRC Academic Representatives, Uwaiza Abdool Sattar and Stéfan Steenekamp, define a faculty house as “an official student structure which is organised along faculty lines, in which registered students, subdivisions, and departments belong to”. UP has nine faculty houses. Abdool Sattar and Steenekamp emphasised that “the nine faculty houses play a vital role when it comes to the academic performance of students”. Class representatives work closely with the academics portfolio of each faculty house, and students can therefore also get involved by running for class representative. Faculties also have sub-houses that students can join. Abdool Sattar and Steenekamp explained that they is an “official subordinate student structure that is organised to represent the interest of students registered for a particular department within the faculty”.

The faculty houses are Health House, House EBIT, House Education, House Humanities, House Theology, Law House, NAT House, OPVSC (Faculty of Veterinary Science), and Commercii, which falls under the EMS Society.

According to Sevashen Thaver, Chairperson of Commercii, Commercii is “a student body filled with the most capable leaders around”. Commercii has eight sub-houses, which cater to different degrees. Thaver stated that Commercii’s goal “is to create a better today for a future tomorrow”. Lindokuhle Zikkalala, Chairperson of House Theology, believes that “the structure of the committee is designed to respond to various needs and hence each of our members are dedicated to serving the faculty, with a soft spot for our students”. Mberi Tjijorokisa, Chairperson of Health House, highlighted that one of the goals of the faculty house is “to develop, grow and impart skills, knowledge and information that will augment the personal development and holistic medical training of the students we represent”. Uwaiza Abdool Sattar, Chairperson of EBIT House, told PDBY that “the faculty house offers academic, professional, and personal development opportunities”. EBIT House also offers social and educational events for “empowerment, enjoyment, and networking” as well as community engagement and sports teams. Nokuthula Mahlalela, Chairperson of House Education, emphasised the importance of mental health by explaining Bua days, where students “can engage in our structure by opening up to speak about their wellbeing”.

Liam Jacobs, Chairperson of House Humanities, mentioned that “the house has a wide array of events coming up, from Health and Fitness Saturdays to weekly Groove Sessions to serious discussions on GBV”. According to Jacobs, “students should get involved in House Humanities as our events are always centred around empowering students to shape the future without fear”. Gomolemo Sibeko, Chairperson of Law House, also encouraged students to get involved with a faculty house, “because [students] are presented with numerous opportunities to interact with [their] peers and collaborate on different projects.” Sibeko added that students will also learn how to balance academics and life. “Forming part of NAT House will provide you with the opportunity to find the balance and the harmony between your academic responsibilities and social life, as well forming part of an effective bridge of communication between you and the NAS faculty”. This is why Stefan Steenekamp, Chairperson of NAT House, believes students should get involved with a faculty house.

Humairaa Mohamed, Chairperson of OPVSC, told PDBY that “our committee portfolios ensure that all aspects of student life are considered- from Academics to Transformation and more”. Mohamed emphasised that “our students are our main priority”.

Students can follow and engage with the faculty houses on Instagram.

Day houses

According to Dean Botha, Chairperson of House Dregeana, day houses “provide the perfect place to proudly participate and set new standards at UP. This provides you with the platform to be a holistic student and get to meet new people which can only help you in your degree and personal life”. UP day houses are, Docendo, Dregeana, Luminous, and Vividus.

Botha explained that “students can easily get involved by visiting our website to get all the information they need”. Brendan Alberts, Chairperson of Docendo, told PDBY that “Docendo is the youngest mixed day house which provides a holistic experience for all day house students and allows students to be involved in more than just academics”.

According to Diandré Oberholzer, Chairperson of Luminous, “the process of joining Luminous Day House is easy. Students can “follow the link in our Instagram Bio, fill in the google form and join the WhatsApp group”. Dominique Strydom, Chairperson of Vividus Day House, explained that a similar process is followed for applications.

Strydom encouraged students to join Vividus Day House Students, “because we offer them a variety of opportunities to participate in different activities”.

Societies, student committees, and special programmes

Nothando Ngubeni, UP SRC’s Day Students and External Campus Affairs Officer, said that “societies, including day houses, allow day students to be part of the university life”. Ngubeni added that “[societies] are great spaces to grow and be part of the UP society”. Ngubeni emphasised that “these engagements will equip day students with the necessary insight and skills needed to be socially conscious world-class leaders”. Students also have the option of joining student committees and special programmes. The student committees are Student Culture (STUKU), UP Reach Out and Give (UP RAG), and Student Sports, while the special programmes are Golden Key, Enactus UP, and STARS Mentorship Programme.

According to Bella Kunene, Chairperson of STUKU, the committee “offers a variety of ways to be involved in the University of Pretoria culture, you don’t need to be in a residence to fully experience the greatness of student culture at the University of Pretoria”. Students can join the general committee to help with the planning of all the events.

UP RAG has different projects and programmes that students can participate and engage in. Busiswe Yabo, Chairperson of UP RAG, believes that “involvement in UP RAG is of paramount importance because it fosters and encourages the concept of community engagement as well as the principles of Ubuntu and giving back to the community”.

Nashira Govender, Chairperson of Student Sports, explained that the committee is responsible for communication between TuksSport and students. To get involved, students can join the general committee.

Golden Key, according to Chairperson Caitlin Olivier, “not only encourages academic excellence but our events/projects also provide students with the opportunity to expand their talents and grow as individuals (by volunteering in one of our many community outreach projects)”. Students can contact Golden Key by email at gkpretoria@ gmail.com.

Sibusile Dlamini, President of Enactus UP, explained that “Enactus UP is a structure that allows students to gain entrepreneurial skills as well as own an enterprise that provides you with the necessary cash flow needed to take care of your needs”. The email address for any queries is enactusup@gmail.com.

STARS Mentorship chairperson, Nelson Nthala, said that the vision is “to help a freshman transition into the university space freely”. Students can apply by sending an email to upmentorship@gmail.com.

UP grants students many opportunities to get involved in university life. These structures not only give students a chance to meet and engage with other students but is also an addition to students’ CVs.

Illustration: Giovanna Janos

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