The SRC's Lethu Shange holds the transformation portfolio.
The Students' Representative Council's Lethu Shange is passionate about transformation and the role it can play in nation-building.
Holder of the SRC's transformation portfolio, the third-year business science student's passion for transformation stems from being a social activist, and this interest dovetails with the SRC's key focus on transformation.
"It is our view that transformation is an SRC-wide responsibility and that it should be carried out and accounted for in all the actions undertaken by the SRC."
These include keeping up pressure to investigate different ways for students to gain equitable access; creating better support and development programmes; and establishing a culture of equal recognition and respect from both staff and students.
"We need to redress the historical imbalances of race, class, minority groups, special interest groups and gender. All of these fall under the progressive change needed in our institution so as to allow UCT to be a community institution serving its role in the attainment of equality through equity."
Shange uses the example of one of the SRC's Transformation Month events, the Conscious Conversations, as a moment which gave him a glimpse of what a comprehensively transformed society would look like. "The Conscious Conversations event saw students debate the challenges facing South Africa. At this forum the views and opinions expressed bore testament to the potential of a truly transformed society when there is a corresponding will from the people themselves," he said.
Currently the Student Transformation Charter is under review within the Transformation portfolio, and Shange explains this will be opened up to the university community for their input, discussion and debate. "This is an outline of the principle that students must actively participate in their specific fields that will impact them and ensure that transformation is continuously on the top of the agenda."
He is also committed to lobbying for increased access for disadvantaged students and Black students. He posits that in the past the SRC may have fallen short in dealing with the structural elements of transformation. "We need to increase the transformation priority in the shape and size of the institution and in its institutional climate," he adds.
Speaking about transformation more broadly, Shange says that civil society and the state are doing a lot to advance the general development of South Africa. "These programmes might differ, but it is the appreciation of the continuous effort that the various spheres in our society are making that gives one hope that a potentially truly transformed society may be realised."
Shange draws on a quote from one of his essays: "What drives recently liberated nations to economic meltdowns and sabotage, civil wars and hatred is the amount of redress done and the commitment put towards it by those who can. We are such people, as students; let us decide together to shape this country to a more prosperous and giving land for all."
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