PDBY spoke to current Student Representative Council (SRC) Deputy President, Rameeza Sattar on what the office of the Deputy President has in store for students this year; as well as ways in which First Years, and the student body at large, can reach out to the SRC to relay their concerns. Sattar called for students to prioritise their mental health amidst coping with the new learning environment posed by the pandemic.

Sattar previously served on the 2019 SRC as the Academic Representative.  

  1. You have made history by attaining the title of UP’s First Female Indian SRC Deputy President, how do you plan on empowering others in the student and political space with this achievement?

The SRC of 2020/2021 made history by being the first SRC at UP led by women, in my view this is empowering in itself already. I believe that women are meant to be in such spaces and positions of leadership. This should empower students to believe that they are capable of achieving anything they set their mind and heart to; and if society suggests otherwise, that should be more of a reason to work harder to achieve it.

2.  What services and initiatives are the Office of the Deputy President’s Plan of Action offering First Years this year?

The SRC as a whole plan to ensure to the best of our ability that first year students’ transition from school to university is as smooth as possible. We will be assisting all students through these uncertain and unpredictable times with issues students might face.

3. How would you advise First Years and the student body at large to reach members of the SRC to ensure a smooth chain of communication between the two entities?

On our various contact lists posted on various social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter), WhatsApp and email. Should we have contact lectures, we will be available during office hours in the Student Affairs Building. 

4. What mechanisms and resources do you recommend to First Years to learn more about the functioning of the SRC and the services they offer?

First Years should firstly know that the SRC is there to assist them, as with all students at the university. Students should follow us on our social media platforms and keep our contact details, email addresses and phone numbers, so that should they need assistance, they can contact us. This is important for when we have e-learning and contact lectures. Students should also remember where our offices are, that being in the Student Affairs Building (formerly known as Roosmaryn Building) so that should, at any point we assume contact lectures and we are on campus, they can come to our offices if they need assistance. 

5. With the shift to remote learning, how different will the experience of being a First Year be (in terms of getting oriented into the University)?

With remote learning, and being a First Year, having that university experience firstly won’t be the same. Being at university during orientation where students would usually explore the campus and various campuses will not be the same as it will be with remote learning. I think that will be the biggest difference.

6. What advice would you direct to First Years to ensure a smooth transition into their tertiary studies?

My advice to first years would be to firstly be proud of yourself for getting through grade 12 during a pandemic. Secondly, it would be to ask if they do not understand something, and to remember that the SRC is there to assist them. 

7. Is there any message you would like to share to First Years and the student body at large?

My message to students in totality would be to remember to take care of themselves. Your mental health is important. Remember that your future self will thank you for all the hard work and effort you put into these years of studying and to also take time for yourself. Have a balance of working hard and taking time to breathe and relax too. Sometimes it gets tough, take it one day at a time and if it still seems too much, take it one hour at a time. 

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Susanna is currently stu(dying) genetics and joined the PDBY team in 2019. She divides her time between writing and playing with plant disease samples. Her contributions span across Science, politics and all things spicy. If you are or were in the SRC, she’s probably spammed you with messages for a story. She’s got a memory like an elephant – so she probably keeps track of student promises. Picture not to scale.