Questions not answered by David Kabwa were left blank.
1.PDBY was informed by the Student Representative Council president, David Kabwa, that communication regarding the collection of graduates’ qualifications on Hillcrest campus and the emailing of the said qualifications to international students would be sent out during the course of either 6 or 7 August. What is the current status of this?
We remain committed to assisting students to the best of our ability. The SRC has received complaints from students regarding the courier costs for degrees under the current conditions. We have engaged the University’s Executive Director for Finance which has resulted in an option for students be accommodated by being able to collect one’s degree at the Hillcrest Campus to comply with national health and safety regulations. For international students and urgent cases, arrangements can be made to receive one’s degree electronically. At the time of drafting this response communication has been sent to all graduates detailing this.
2.In light of the discussions surrounding fee rebates, why has the SRC nor management undertaken a decisive plan of action regarding the discussion surrounding fee rebates, and when would such a decision be made? Will the fees be adjusted accordingly with regard to facility fees, as we currently do not use campus facilities with the current shift to online learning?
We believe that fees should be adjusted in light of the current national crisis it does not make sense for one to charged where services are un-rendered services. This has been detailed in a memorandum of concerns submitted to the Executive on the 13th of April and detailed in a statement. The final decision is contingent on the academic calendar. We raise the matter on a continual basis and will continue do so as the academic calendar unfolds.
3.Will there be efforts to redraft or revise a plan of action (POA) for each SRC portfolio, considering that the unprecedented lockdown has led to a shift in deadlines and timelines as members of the SRC had to prioritise the immediate needs of the students imposed by the lockdown and as a result many milestones stipulated in the POA have not been met?
Yes, the SRC POA does require a revision due to the unforeseen circumstances of the time in which we find ourselves. The emphasis remains on efforts to ensure that students are assisted as far as possible during this time.
4.In a prior engagement between the SRC and PDBY, the SRC mentioned that “should the POA be updated, students can find it posted on the SRC website during the third quarter”. What is the current status of this now, as we enter the third quarter?
The process is still currently ongoing to allow for enough time each office to revaluate their current POA’s an update will be provided when the website is updated
5.A ruling published by the Chief Justice stipulated that the 1st student forum was postponed, this was then also extended to the 2nd student forum. When can students expect to engage with the SRC, in a direct manner, as done in a student forum? What interim measures have been discussed to mimic a student forum setup under the current circumstances?
The SRC is continually seeking to engage students regarding accountability purposes, this is why we requested an advisory opinion in relation to how to conduct a student forum that could be held online. Unfortunately the current forum rules when applied to the current CSG do not make provision for this. We have shared the first and second quarter reports and engaged questions posed to us in the second quarter that were published alongside the report for quarter two. The SRC will be having more live interactions for direct engagement during this semester. However, these interactions will not have a forum setup to comply with the CSG.
6.As of date, no financial budget of the current SRC office has been released since their terms in office began. Upon PDBY’s questioning of this, following the cancellation of the 2nd student forum, the SRC mentioned that this had to be revised in light of the lockdown, and mention that “students can expect a revised budget in the third quarter”. On what date can students expect the financial budget?
No answer provided
7.Could the student body get a breakdown of how SRC funds were planned, prioritized and spent before the lockdown and during the lockdown?
The SRC Budget is allocated along with SRC POA, once the discussion regarding POA’s has concluded the budget will be revisited should the need arise. We will ensure that the budget is uploaded for the student body also.
8.As of date, no meeting minutes have been uploaded for the year 2020. PDBY’s querying of this on 9 April, with the SRC secretary, Ryan Haines, yielded this response: “No minutes have been uploaded to the website yet. The SRC Secretary and Marketing, Media & Communication Officer have not yet accessed the website to be able to upload these documents. The SRC Secretary has however drafted several statements pursuant to the minutes of ordinary SRC meetings and have, in collaboration with the Marketing, Media & Communications Officer, distributed them on SRC platforms insofar as they are relevant to students.” Despite the statements released being a condensed form of the discussions undertaken at the meetings, in light of transparency, when can the student body expect meeting minutes being uploaded for 2020?
All minutes will be uploaded during the third quarter, we encourage students to peruse them once they are uploaded.
9.Building on the aforementioned concept of transparency, students express the sentiment that the SRC has not been responsive to students who have reached out to them. Why has the SRC’s communication to the student body dwindled, through the progression of the academic year?
No answer provided
10.What procedure should students follow to get the attention of an SRC member or communicate with them regarding concerns?
Emails are the primary form of communication. We encourage students to continue to engage the SRC and direct queries to the relevant office. Where students are unable to communicate via email, we encourage students to communicate via the means that is most accessible to them.
11.PDBY queried the content of bills and amendments that were formulated and discussions during meetings of a body known as the Law Reform Council, with the Chief Justice on 9 April, which yielded the following response: “A decision to release a copy of the Bill etc. falls within the purview of the elected representatives of the Students, the SRC”. Taking into account that the body known as the Law Reform Council, was not conceived as a formal committee, but rather a body encompassing members of the SRC and constitutional tribunal to streamline proceedings, when can students get access to details of the bills proposed and other discussions undertaken by this committee and why has this not been made available before?
Amendments to the CSG are tabled before Council, active Council documents are classified as confidential. However, the draft version of CSG approvals have been received recently and sent to the Tribunal. This is an ongoing process. Once it is completed, it will be uploaded and discussion that took place in the sittings of the Tribunal and SRC will be available through minutes of the SRC.
12.Numerous students have also expressed complaints of the erratic approach to online learning undertaken by lecturers that has had consequences on their academics. Have the staff undertaken a form of training in formulating procedures for online learning and communication that stipulates what is expected of them? Does a template pertaining to this exist?
The SRC has been engaging with lecturers, Heads of Departments, and Faculties on a daily basis. We have been communicating with lecturers on a daily basis in this regard. Programmes and courses are all varied in nature, due to this there is no template that exists. For this purpose we encourage students to come forward and express difficulties faced.
13. PDBY’s querying of the checkers vouchers as part of an MOU with respublica, on 8 April, yielded the following response from the SRC president: “130 students were placed by the SRC. Vouchers were to be distributed in mid-March and would apply to students staying at Urban nest and Eastwoods village. Currently no distributions have begun.” What is the current status of the checkers vouchers that were stipulated in the MOU signed with respublica?
The MOU was negotiated under conditions in place before the lockdown. Currently the status is inactive. We will however follow up regarding how to use the agreement to assist student in the lockdown.
14.Taking into the account the limitations of the SRC in directing the same aid that South African students receive to international students under the current circumstances, what alternative measures are being formulated to ensure international students are being aided and not left behind?
The SRC has ensure that the intervention made for South African students under the current circumstances also be made available for international students within South Africa’s borders. The difficulty experienced currently are national limitations as we cannot make interventions that contravene national regulations.
15.As we commence into semester 2, it has been noted that no data allocations for August have been undertaken. Could the SRC comment on the measures being formulated that students can download and access lecture material during this time and when data allocations will occur?
The SRC has engaged the Department of Institutional Advancement in this regard which has referred the matter to the Office of the COO. We are working on the matter continually. In the first semester we pushed to ensure that data was made as a provision for assessments as an alternative to the connect link. We encourage students to continually raise issues experienced regarding connectivity to us.
Questions from Students
16.For students who intend on crossing over to other degrees, but are greatly disadvantaged by the current circumstances and as a result may not have reached the requirements, will there be any changes to the transfer requirements this year?
Admission requirements across the board will consider the current circumstances. An example of this is the fact that NBT’s will not be a requirement to begin studies in 2021. I encourage students to begin correspondences with the Faculty or department that they are looking to transfer into. The SRC is also able to assist in this regard.
17.I am a masters student who by the government’s level 3 outline, qualifies to return to campus but I have not yet been given permission to do so. Unfortunately there is nothing my lecturer can do as this is a higher up problem and I need to access campus to continue my research. I was supposed to submit my thesis at the end of August and that is currently not possible. I am not the only one in this situation and I would appreciate some advice on what I could do about this?
Under the government’s level 3 outline, 33% of students have been permitted to return to campus. Because of the cap of this percentage, space to return in compliance with national regulations has been limited. I would advise that you engage the SRC Office of Residences in this regard. We will do everything that we can to accommodate you and seek to provide academic support through our Office Of Academics also.
18.In light of upcoming SRC elections. I wanted to know why [..] we see the SRC and vying political candidates only during election times? The rest of the time they don’t really get around to do things unless it is a photo opportunity.
The SRC works on student issues on a daily basis. Due to the nature of the work conducted many of the cases students bring to our attention must remain confidential to respect the students that are raising those issues. It is for this reason that the SRC is primarily seen as a collective performing duties that require the collective to avail themselves such as SRC events. I can assure you that the SRC is working to address issues on continual basis. I cannot speak for vying candidates but I do encourage all student leaders to adopt a mentality of servant leadership.
19.When will UP students be allowed to utilize the resources on the sports campus?
Communal sports resources and facilities in enclosed areas will remain inaccessible due to social distancing regulations. Sports that are approved at a national level will be phased in according to guidelines. I encourage student to contact the relevant sport code.
20.Will we be going back this semester? / Is there a possibility for us to return to campus this year?
Gauteng is currently hotspot for in pandemic in the country. Unfortunately, a return to campus does not seem likely at this point. However, we remain guided by national guidelines in relation to phasing in of students.
21.Why has the SRC done little to nothing to support students in need and change university policies?
The SRC has been working on changing University policies across terms. Most policies have a life cycle of two to four years before a review takes place. This means that an SRC will work to influence and change policies that may not materialise in the tenure of the SRC. The most recent policy that the SRC has worked hard to contribute to is the new Anti-Discrimination Policy that was adopted at Council November 2019. I encourage students to peruse the document.
22.What is the most recent news about Res Fees?
The budget committee as well as Council will need to sit to decide on fee adjustments in relation to the academic year. Residence Fees will be included in the discussion pertaining to fee adjustments, we maintain that one should not be charged for un-rendered services. We have requested rebates.
23.Have lecturers attended a workshop about how to use blackboard collaborate?
Lecturers have been provided with all of the information required to navigate blackboard collaborate. I invite students experiencing issues to come forward indicate the difficulties faced
24.Why has the SRC president and the SRC been so quiet lately?
Communication from the SRC has taken place on social media primarily during the lockdown about initiatives and activities in the SRC and the University community. We have recognised the need for more direct communication and will ensure that this takes place.
25.Will dining hall students continue getting R1780 for the month of August?
Students that have not moved back to Res will continue to receive R1780, students that have returned to Res will have the money on their meal account.
26.Zero rated clickup doesn’t exist for international students, what’s the plan?
Zero rated clickup does work for international students in the country. Moreover, we have ensure that data for assessments also be made an option for students in the first semester and are working on the issue for second semester. In relation to international students outside of the country we are dependent on National Regulations from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation that prevent us engaging telecommunication companies outside of South African borders.
* Disclaimer: PDBY did not edit any responses
Relevant Reads: PDBYlive with SRC cancelled: Written questions submitted