It was an evening of housekeeping when the Institutional Reconciliation and Transformation Commission (IRTC) Steering Committee met on 23 February 2017.
Back-end issues such as representation, terms of reference and “unfinished business” outside of the steering committee’s work, such as clemency for students who were involved in protests at UCT in 2016, as Professor Jeremy Seekings put it, were on the table.
The steering committee is laying the groundwork for the IRTC to function smoothly once commissioners are appointed and the process begins in earnest. One such piece of groundwork that the meeting focused on was a gap in representation: staff members in pay classes 1 and 2 – part of the newly insourced cohort – are not yet represented by a recognised union. With the negotiation for recognition to be concluded in April, the question was how to include representation from this constituency in the interim, and then on the IRTC itself.
Chair Sipho Pityana called on the committee to apply their minds to the proposals that emanated from around the room.
Update on terms of reference
Not all IRTC Steering Committee representatives had time to consult their constituencies on the terms of reference – the next PASS Forum, for instance, only happens on 2 March. As such, the committee members have been given until 31 March to do so and to submit amendments to the IRTC terms of reference.
The next meeting will take place two weeks after submissions are made, by which time a team of volunteers from the steering committee will have consolidated the feedback.
What of clemency and exclusion?
Questions about the clemency and exclusion processes for students involved in protests last year also surfaced. Some of these students face exclusion on either financial or academic grounds, with suspended students, some of whom were funded by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, being unable to write exams and therefore unable to apply for funding again this year.
University management expressed its wish, in principle, that the affected students return to UCT and that their records be cleaned so that they may register in 2017. The steering committee requested UCT management to return with details of the specific measures that this process will entail.
Student representatives were concerned about the discussion of the IRTC terms of reference and criteria for nomination of commissioners before students got clarity on the clemency process and the Readmission Appeal Committee (RAC). The student representatives wanted assurances that the RAC would not exclude any student who had made a clemency application while those clemency application outcomes were unknown.
Management has committed to delivering a report on the status of the clemency process on 3 March 2017.
Pityana reminded the committee to stick to the IRTC’s mandate and not to bring issues to the IRTC table that were technically on UCT’s Rapid Response Task Team’s agenda.
Watch the recording of the proceedings of the meeting of 23 February 2017.
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