In the current constitution for student governance, the service providers are TuksRag, Stuku, Tuks FM, Perdeby and the SSC. The proposed new constitution lists Perdeby and the Student Disciplinary Advisory Panel (SDAP) as the only service providers. TuksRag, Stuku and the SSC fall under committees, something that is not included in the current constitution. Tuks FM is now a business enterprise and is therefore no longer part of the SRC.
According to Dr Madiba, committees have to mobilise student participation in various ways, while service providers offer a specific service to students. Committees have a “broader mobilisation responsibility (to get student participation) [which] is different from what the new service provider category has to do.”
The proposed constitution states that committees are accountable to the SRC and that each committee’s chairperson will serve as an ex officio member of the SRC. According to the constitution, this is done “in order [for the chairpersons] to account to the SRC for their respective committees as well as to represent the interests of their committee.”
However, in addition to this, two members from each of the committees will sit on the Student Leadership Forum (SLF). The forum will be made up of elected leaders from various student structures and will judge the SRC’s performance against their action plans and hold them to account.
“In this instance I think we are faced with a positive change. I am very much for the idea that Stuku, Rag and Sport will receive ex officio positions on the SRC and I personally think that it will open a whole new gateway of possibilities,” said Stuku chairperson Maritza Lubbe.
Lubbe said that it may be constraining for the chairpersons to have to report to the SRC. “However, I do think it is one of those sacrifices that has to be made for the greater good in the end. Adding a new level of accountability, not only to the SRC but also to the SLF, will also bring us closer to seeing exactly what students want and need from us,” she said.
Despite Tuks FM being a business enterprise, the proposed constitution includes them in the SLF. Dr Madiba said that they are on the forum because they are still a student radio station and, “It is worthwhile that Tuks FM remains part of the student structures.”
Dr Madiba said that Perdeby is a service provider because it renders a service to the student community by keeping them informed of what is happening on campus. The SDAP is a panel of law students available to assist students at disciplinary hearings. Thus they render a service by representing students at these hearings. According to Dr Madiba, the panel applied for service provider status at the end of 2012, and was accepted by the SRC and university management.
The current role of service providers is that they serve the community through entertainment, sport, culture, information and socials. Service providers also offer students the opportunity to experience student life while developing their leadership skills. However, Dr Madiba said that the proposed constitution differentiates between committees, who play an organising role, and service providers, who render a specific service.
Despite this, the clauses under committees and service providers are almost exactly the same, with one key distinction listed under responsibilities. “Duly recognising all communities constituting the student body of the University of Pretoria, service providers must provide efficient, professional services to the student body,” while “Committees must promote broad participation by students in the activities of such committees.”
“The process of consultation is exactly to improve on the draft so that such differences can be properly highlighted, and the constitution redrafted accordingly,” Dr Madiba said.
Image: Talifhani Mathode