The Department of Student Affairs (DSA) forged ahead in 2022 in its quest to “liberate the soul for well-being and academic success”. Guided by the our motto: 3R=F[Ad Infinitum]. Thus, in line with the University of Cape Town’s Vision 2030, which is to “Unleash human potential for a fair and just society”, we need to: rekindle the dying embers of the soul; rehabilitate the soul for it to radiate. Once we radiate, we have a capacity to flourish ad infinitum.
The DSA held its annual Strategy Plan Review from 28 to 30 November 2022 at the UCT Graduate School of Business, Breakwater Campus. As part of the review and deliberation, the DSA leadership thought it necessary to add two key strategic areas (KSAs) – KSAs 4 and 5 – listed hereunder. The purpose and aim were to ensure that the DSA’s strategy remains relevant and fit for purpose. The following are the DSA’s KSAs through which the DSA strategy is implemented:
The following are among the projects and programmes that the executive director’s office (EDO) implemented in 2022:
#FMF – The Aftermath Exhibition
The DSA, in partnership the Human Science Research Council (HSRC), hosted the Aftermath Photo Exhibition between 3 and 5 May 2022. The focus of the exhibition was on violence and well-being in the context of the Fees Must Fall (#FMF) student movement. The exhibition took the shape of a photovoice exhibition by students from the University of the Western Cape (UWC), University of the Free State (UFS), University of Venda (UniVen), University of Fort Hare (UFH), and Durban University of Technology (DUT).
There was also a panel discussion about “Restoring Well-being after Protests: Lessons from #FeesMustFall”. The chair of the session was Dr Keamogetse Morwe, and the panellists included Pura Mgolombane, Siya Plaatjie, Asanda Lobelo, Tshepang Mahlatsi, and Prof Thierry M Luescher.
TransGariep Student Leadership Programme
TransGariep is an inter-institutional and inter-provincial leadership programme. It ran over two weeks as a collaborative partnership between UCT and Sol Plaatjie University (SPU), from 11 to 22 July, with a total of 60 students (30 students from each university). The underlying philosophy of the TransGariep Leadership Programme is to use Self as a starting point of true leadership. The approach invites the participants to address issues from the inside out. The programme covered a wide range of historic and existential themes, concepts, activities and ideas, such as:
The DSA worked tirelessly towards maintaining and enhancing the health, wellness and safety of students and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through our humanising approach we ensured transformative human encounters as and when providing services to students. Our resolve was tested but we take solace that as the DSA, we would rise to the challenge. Throughout these challenges, the DSA remained resolute to ensure a humanising student experience driven by healing, nurturing, resilience and (wise) counsel in pursuit of the agenda of the soul, from Student Wellness Services (SWS), Student Financial Aid (SFA), Student Development (SD) to Student Housing and Residence Life (SH&RL).
SWS continued to implement isolation procedures for students in residences to prevent large cases of community transmission of the coronavirus in line with the approved protocols by the COVID-19 Coordinating Committee. A walk-in service was initiated at the clinic on upper campus. SWS also conducted the two campus-wide health promotion campaigns, one in each semester. These campaigns managed to attract approximately 3 000 students, 17 external stakeholders, and some of the internal UCT stakeholders.
SWS also embarked on a healthy lifestyle activity through UCanToo running, mindfulness sessions and promotion of various dynamic stress-relieving techniques.
SFA continued to be a glimmer of hope for most of the students through the provision of the following programmes and interventions:
SD began its work with the 2022 Student Orientation. It proceeded with the hybrid format of presenting the orientation since the COVID-19 outbreak. Approximately 4 500 first-year students participated in orientation. The Welcome Festival was held on 10 February on the rugby fields. The welcome festival was themed “Flourishing through Transformative Human Encounters”.
In 2022, the office depended on donor funding and contributions to ensure that monthly care packs were distributed to 500 students. SD also ensured that each month students who were registered for a Postgraduate Certificate in Education / Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting and Postgraduate Law received a cash send voucher of approximately R1 200. Up to 130 students were supported monthly.
SD is also responsible for Student Governance. In this regard, SD, SFA and the SRC disbursed R1 million to students facing fee blocks. Accordingly, 22 students were assisted through the SRC Assistance Fund and 21 students were assisted through the Afrifund. The SRC hosted a successful fashion show as a fundraiser on 30 September that was well supported by the university executive and the chancellor; R3 million was raised from the event.
The Election Commission hosted a successful faculty councils’ election as well as SRC elections. The poll was achieved for the SRC elections with a 26% turnout. Pertaining to SD’s role for sports and recreation: In 2022 SD piloted the concept of Friday Night Lights for indoor sport. In this respect, Friday evenings were set aside for basketball matches. This initiative created opportunities for the UCT Basketball men and women to play against other universities.
SD is also responsible for the Rhodes Must Fall (RMF) scholarship. In 2022 the scholarship of R40 000 was awarded to Ayabulela Mhlahlo, a master’s student in social science.
SH&RL had to carefully navigate the process and practice of housing students considering the overwhelming effect of COVID-19. This careful navigation included a constant provision of secure, hygienic, and well-maintained residences. The emphasis was on holistic student development, which involved reigniting the residence governance structures and creating residence communities that promote humanising the student experience, foster student academic support and transformative human encounters together which created conditions to liberate the soul for well-being and academic success.
Student Wellness Service (SWS) continued to offer health services to all students on campus in 2022 during the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some of the highlights and key figures for the year:
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