Students examine social relationships with community

10 August 2009

Student Conference Social wise: VC Dr Max Price is flanked by Student in/and Community Conference organisers Jon Hodgson, Jon Parsonage, Jess Auerbach and Brennan Hodkinson.

UCT would be failing in its civic duty if it produced students who were not committed to alleviating social injustice, vice-chancellor Dr Max Price said at the opening of the Students in/and Community Conference on 24 July.

Price said that the student body had a long history of fighting social injustice, but these efforts had taken a back seat in the past 15 years, following the demise of apartheid, as students sensed that the battle had been won.

"They felt that it was no longer the job of universities to fight the battle, to toyi-toyi and picket against social injustice," he explained.

Price believes opportunities have opened up again in the past year or so, following changes in the political landscape. He said that while the government had succeeded in many areas, it had failed in others. Here there is scope for students.

"Once again, universities must think of the role they can play, and take up that role. We must challenge injustices and campaign on behalf of the poor."

The student-driven conference provided a lens for examining UCT's engagement with the community - on all levels.

Jon Hodgson, one of the organisers, said that in the past five years UCT has seen a massive growth in community activities, through the Students' Health and Welfare Centres Organisations and Ubunye, and numerous other student-run organisations.

Hodgson said that every week, approximately 2 000 UCT students participate in community activities.

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