THEUNS VAN RHYN

“Sink the ship!” was the chant of Tuks students at the student centre last week Tuesday.

This came after the university’s announcement the previous day that the annual Spring Day celebrations had been cancelled. SRC Secretary General, Katlego Malatji, addressed students on Tuesday, saying that the university had lied to its students.

A group of students then marched to the Administrative Building (informally called the ship) demanding an explanation from UP management about the sudden cancellation of Spring Day. Security guards quickly halted the march at the Musaion.

Head of Security, Colin Fouché, said nobody was hurt in the incident. Dean of Students, Professor McGlory Speckman, came out to address the students.

This came after Nicolize Mulder, Media Liaison Officer of the university, told Perdeby in the edition published on 29 August that Spring Day, along with Rag, Serrie and Ienk Melodienk, were not being discontinued and that the arrangements for the annual Spring Day party were in an “advanced stage.” In a press release issued on 6 September by the university, it was said that the decision to cancel the Spring Day celebrations at the Rag farm was due to the fact that a temporary liquor license could not be obtained for the event.

This decision, said the university, was made in collaboration with student structures and other stakeholders. “The university was not pertinently warned by the Gauteng provincial authorities that the MEC of Economical Development, due to internal issues, was planning to raise a moratorium on the issuing of liquor licenses,” the press release read. The university added that the fact that a liquor license for this year’s function could not be obtained was not an attack or undermining of any tradition.

However, questions were raised as to why the university waited until the day before Spring Day to announce that the event would be discontinued when the moratorium was already passed in August. The university claims that management did everything possible to and a political and legal solution.

But the university was noticed by the MEC that it would be impossible to make an exception. “A court order by a third party for the putting aside of the moratorium was rejected by the presiding judge on 30 August.” In an interview with Perdeby Malatji said that the university has overlooked many things to strategically ensure that they weaken Rag.

“When Ludwig Marx resigned [from Rag] they promised us that within a week they would have a replacement. It is three months down the line and Rag is the only service provider that doesn’t have a member of staff in charge.” Charl Oberholzer, SRC Chairperson, has since obtained an affidavit claiming that the university did in fact say that these traditions should be reconsidered.

In the statement Oberholzer wrote, “Management of the University of Pretoria admitted in a rector’s forum meeting with the SRC that the Jool (Rag) parade should be re-visited since it does not serve its purpose anymore. Management of TuksRes admitted in an informal discussion that Serrie was under threat in the month of December 2010 and that several people at UP admitted that they do not want pre-Spring to take place and that Spring Day celebrations at UP divide the student population.”

After this, Oberholzer also went to university management with a document he wanted signed in which the university would promise to protect Tuks traditions. Oberholzer said, “UP refuses to sign a document that shows that they promise to protect traditions such as Spring Day, Rag and Pot en Pons.”

According to Oberholzer, the reason the university gave for not signing the document was because they claim no traditions are under threat. It remains unclear whether Spring Day will continue next year. The Rag committee was unavailable for comment concerning claims that the cancellation of Spring Day had caused further financial loss to Rag, which is already R1.5 million in debt (as of July 2011).

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