University of Cape Town (UCT) Vice-Chancellor (VC) interim Emeritus Professor Daya Reddy hailed the outgoing Students’ Representative Council (SRC) for their commitment to resolving students’ matters during their term of office. The current term ends at the end of October. A farewell dinner was held on Thursday, 5 October, at Glenara.
At this evening of reflection, Emeritus Professor Reddy anecdotally reminded his guests that he spent his first two days of his term not in his office, but in mediation talks as issues around fees became a talking point at the institution.
“That was my introduction to the SRC. In retrospect, I am very pleased about that. It gave me an opportunity – through the course of mediation – to learn a bit about some of you who were involved in it [mediation talks] and to gain some sense into the degree of commitment by the SRC to resolve those issues.
“As you know, it worked out well and had positive consequences, such as the agreement to work together to review the fee policy and, very recently, it is making headway through various committees,” he said.
Guidance and support
He added: “In reflecting on students’ representative councils and student governance, I was thinking about what a demanding facet of your lives it is. You get in and are required to find your feet immediately. I appreciate the fact that you have put your hand up and served your term; and appreciate all you have done for the student community and the university.”
Reddy said he understood that whatever expectations the student leaders may have had of the task at hand, it certainly proved more complex than they could have imagined.
“Thank you for your service. It is much appreciated.”
“Your activism and concern for students stood out, together with your commitment to fellow students. I do believe the SRC is an extremely important part of the university’s governance structure, and we look to you for guidance and support on student matters and we find it important to work with you.
“You can now look forward to your studies and more time with your friends as the term comes to an end. Thank you for your service. It is much appreciated.”
Elections for the 2023/24 SRC concluded on 22 September. The newly elected representatives are expected to start their term on 1 November.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) for Transformation, Student Affairs and Social Responsiveness Professor Elelwani Ramugondo said intergenerational engagement is best showcased during interactions between management and student leaders, saying oftentimes “adults don’t want to be led by young people”, however, she sees things differently and encourages it because as leaders make themselves available to serve, they provide guidance as well.
Outgoing SRC president, Hlengiwe Gugulethu Lisa Dube, said that she hopes many of her fellow SRC members would have taken a meaningful and positive reflection from their term in office.
“I have gone through many speeches this year, but this one I have anticipated since last year. I stand here humbled by opportunities, grateful for the experience, surprised by the road travelled and excited for the destination; excited because this means another path has been discovered. Thank you to my team for persevering this year. Thank you for your persistence, ambition, and time.
“Whatever our term may look like from your side, I hope something came of it.”
SRC member Bhongolethu Tembe, who served as treasurer-general, said: “Because it’s been just a rollercoaster [of a term], we have focused a lot on the lows and conflicts. But don’t ignore the things we have achieved. Yes, there’s been backlash, but that doesn’t take away from what we achieved. Wear that with pride and don’t be shy to point out what we’ve achieved. We’ve also been able to learn from some of our mistakes and the real learning is not making those same mistakes in a different setting.”
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