STEPHANIE VAN DER PLANK
With orientation, RAG and Hatfield Square providing adequate distraction, student politics may not be a top priority when starting university. However, it is important to have an understanding of how Student Parliament functions. With this knowledge you can ensure your rights and best interests are properly looked after.
The political system at Tuks aims to provide students with the opportunity to be part of decision-making processes while monitoring student policy.
The university’s two main political structures are Student Parliament and the Student Representative Council (SRC). Together, these structures represent the student body of UP and have certain governing responsibilities pertaining to student affairs. The Constitution for Student Governance defines Student Parliament as being “the representative body to which the SRC is accountable”. The SRC is responsible for carrying out the agenda set forward by Student Parliament dealing with day-to-day student governance. The SRC is also subject to the authority of the University Council and other relevant university authorities.
Members of Student Parliament are elected on a constituency basis. The three main constituencies are faculties, residences and societies. The clause regarding the day house constituency was changed last year and subsequently contested by some organisations.
Faculty candidates can only represent the faculty to which they are registered, and the same applies to society members. Residence candidates, including day house candidates, are chosen in an independent election where members of the house committees elect parliament members.
All students can participate in the elections and run for candidacy. However, there are prerequisites for potential parliament members: an average of at least 55% must have been attained in the semester before elections and the candidate may not have committed any transgressions against the university’s code of conduct.
Student Parliament members are elected from the aforementioned constituencies. Between 15 and 21 members of Student Parliament are elected to the SRC. Of these, 40% must be male and 40% must be female.
These elected members vacate their seats in Student Parliament immediately after the election of the SRC. The remaining members then constitute Student Parliament. SRC members are assigned specific portfolios and work within these portfolios for the duration of their term. Students can communicate with Student Parliament through the SRC, whose offices can be found in Roosmaryn on Hatfield campus.
The SRC may advise the university authorities on all issues including institutional policy affecting students. According to the constitution, every registered student has the right to vote in elections for Student Parliament or any other student governance structure.
Student Parliament acts as the voice of the student body in general. Members of parliament should represent the widest possible variety of views within the student body. Therefore, if any students have grievances regarding university practices or believe their rights are not being respected and represented, they should not hesitate to contact the SRC and voice their opinions. SRC members can be identified by their striped blazers in the university’s colours.