On 16 May, the UP SRC held its second quarterly Student Forum in the Engineering Building.
SRC President Kwena Moloto, delivered his quarterly report. Moloto commented on the SRC’s recent food drive and said, “The food drive was a massive success and ensured that no student was forced to study on an empty stomach. The food drive also demonstrated how effective Student Governance structures can be when working together for a common goal…Going forward the UP SRC intends on continuing to foster working relationships with all Student Governance structures to ensure that events such as the food drive continue to be impactful and effective.”
Moloto also spoke about this year’s registration period and the problems that some students were facing. He said, “With the commencement of the academic year, many returning students still weren’t registered. This was due to various factors. The most notable being historical debt and the NSFAS strike. As a result, on the 19th of February 2018 when the registration period ended, hundreds of students still hadn’t registered. After many engagements with the UP Executive it was decided that the registration period would be extended to the 2nd of March 2018. This was the first time in recent years that an SRC was able to extend the registration period. Furthermore, the SRC was able to negotiate that unregistered students be allowed onto campus in order to seek help from the SRC and attend class until the 2nd of March 2018.”
Moloto reported that the SRC was able to restructure its budget in order to allocate more funds to the SRC’s Study Finance portfolio. “Through various budget cuts and reallocation of funds the UP SRC was able to disperse over R1,000,000 over the course of the registration period in order to assist students in need of financial aid. This is an achievement that no UP SRC has ever succeeded in doing and speaks to the pedigree of leaders who currently occupy Roosmaryn,” he said.
Food prices on campus was a concern that was raised by students during the mass meeting that took place on 8 May. Moloto said, “In my first meeting with [the] Vice-Chancellor [Prof. Cheryl de la Rey] in 2017, I raised the issues of exorbitant food prices on campus. The Vice-Chancellor agreed that the food services model needed to be revised and that we would begin engaging on a new food services model in 2018. I am glad to state that the Vice-Chancellor has made good on her promise and over the course of 2018 the UP SRC has had various meetings with relevant stakeholders to address the issue of exorbitant food prices on campus and in residences. The UP SRC has also engaged with various NPO’s that provide fortified meals for under R10. We are committed to eradicating student hunger over the course of our term and are confident that by the commencement of the 3rd quarter of the 2018 academic year that there will be massive changes in the food service model at UP.”
Moloto also spoke on accommodation issues that some students were facing. He said, “The 2017/2018 UP SRC build [sic] relations with the Christian Revival Church (CRC) who agreed to temporarily place homeless students until the SRC was able to find them permanent accommodation. As a result, no student who approached the SRC was forced to squat. The 2017/2018 UP SRC was also able to negotiate with Hatfield Studios and South Point to reserve rooms for NSFAS students at a discounted rate. This saw an increase in hundreds of beds available to NSFAS students. The Vice Principal of Student Affairs has also agreed to allow for the SRC to review the Res Placement Policy. The UP SRC intends on ensuring that more emphasis is put on socio-economic background as well as distance from UP when placing students.”
SRC Treasurer, Duane van Wyk, delivered a report on the SRC’s budget for 2018. Van Wyk said that the budget was revised and restructured to allocate more funds to the SRC’s Study Finance portfolio. He added that the SRC will hold fundraisers at all of its events. This is to “ensure constant fundraising”, he explained.
Dr. Matete Madiba, Director of Student Affairs, commented on the Student Forum and said, “All reports that were scheduled were given and ample time was given to the Q&A session. The forum was a success in the sense that the agenda was covered, and it [the agenda] was even stretched to include questions from the first forum. However, the behaviour of some individuals and groups in the forum leaves much to be desired and there is a need to develop a code of conduct for participation, and to hold participants accountable for their behaviours in the forum.”
Sasco UP said it was “disgusted” by the way the Student Forum was held. According to a social media release from SASCO, “During the President’s speech, Mr Moloto failed to address the current issue that NSFAS students are facing. He also did not report back on the academic and financial exclusion faced at the end of 2017 till date. The President also misled students by stating that the 2017 UP SRC was the first to assist students in the registration period and had utilized over R1 million. During the 2016 SRC Term led by SASCO more than R3 million was raised externally and funds were utilized to assist students.”
The release continued, “Whilst the President overwhelmingly praised and commended his SRC for working hard in ensuring a successful food drive, students should not forget that this SRC had failed to ensure that there will be no increase in residence food prices. It was last year when the SRC Treasurer mentioned that no res food prices shall increase – yet the SRC remained silent when the prices had increased. The SRC Treasurer and his collective failed to fundraise money that would be assisted to assist students that are historically indebted- yet the UP SRC has been in office for more than 8 months.”