The department has its main headquarters in Avenue House in Mowbray, with the Student Housing Admissions section based in the New Student Administration Building on Middle Campus. It is among the biggest support staff departments at UCT, with a staff of over 100.
Student Housing and Residence Life comprises the following sections:
MP spoke to Grant Willis.
What are the challenges of your duties?
Every year has different challenges. In 2010 the FIFA Soccer World Cup posed a big challenge in providing accommodation to world cup guests. The focus for 2011 has turned to the review of the Student Housing administration policy and the challenge of ensuring that Obz Square, to become our biggest residence in the system with 930 beds, is up and running by the beginning of 2012.
What are the highs and lows of your work?
A low point is explaining to desperate parents and students that all residence places have been taken. We have to listen to them and express empathy, but also be realistic that we can't make more offers. It is always difficult to explain why we don't have space for them; fortunately we have experienced staff to cope with these situations. I hope in the years to come we will have more accommodation and less anguish from parents and students. A high point is the start of the year, as students enter their residence armed with suitcases and various implements they think they will require. A cycle is about to commence and with it the responsibility bestowed upon one's shoulders.
What is the strangest thing you have encountered?
Avenue House, Student Housing's new home, has a hall next to it. The hall and the house used to be attached. In the past the venue was let to the filming world, but in between shoots it was not utilised - we thought. One day I was checking on the venue and heard strange thumping noises emerging from the hall. Having beat a hasty retreat into a neighbouring residence, I called Campus Protection Services to establish what was going on. CPS, with me at a safe distance behind, slowly approached the hall and peered inside, expecting to see a ghost, only to find three children riding their BMX bicycles.
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