You may notice the extensive spread featuring SRC president David Kabwa’s responses to the questions sent by PDBY and submitted by students. You may also notice that they are incredibly vague and noncommittal. The SRC has said that they are continually raising concerns about fee rebates and are engaging with faculties about online learning and difficulties expressed by students, but the lack of solid answers suggests that the SRC has not been successful in their engagements with the university. I find this interesting, because as the Student Representative Council, if you can’t get answers and results from the university, why are we turning to you? At this point, it appears to me like the SRC is a mouthpiece for the university, and delivers a nice, simplified version of the university’s responses to our questions. Big surprise, they can’t help with fees, residence fees, international students or less than adequate online learning in some departments. To me, this insubstantial reply to student problems sounds pretty familiar.
The SRC president has also elected to ignore some questions – which is his choice. But it certainly makes me worry that the SRC feels they can avoid questions from their students, and dodge accountability. Isn’t your whole purpose to speak for and fight for students? If so, why are you not doing so? I don’t accept that you are speaking to UP and engaging with them – this is another way of avoiding responsibility. Demand answers, SRC. Demand them. If UP won’t address fee rebates and stall by pushing the academic calendar excuse, give them an ultimatum. As students, we should not underestimate our power – and therefore the power of the SRC as our representatives. We do not expect super humans who can solve every problem, but we do expect the SRC to try, and to try openly. I believe that the SRC try, and I believe that they are raising concerns to UP. But more so, I am disappointed that the SRC seem to take any answer given by the university and accept it as all they can do. This isn’t the case. We all remember David forcing the university to close for the #AmINext protests, against what UP was trying to enforce. Why has no such determination and passion been shown during the pandemic? Use the platform afforded to you SRC, and openly and transparently stand up for your students.
I’d like to hear how you, the students, feel about this. Write a letter to the editor and send it to me at editor@ pdby.co.za – I assure you, you’ll get a response.
Relevant Reads: Letter Policy
On 3 August PDBY published an article entitled UP International Students Petition for lockdown aid, but did not afford the university a response. PDBY apologises for the oversight.