This year’s SRC declared 2012 to be “The Year of the Student.” Their mid-term report, written by SRC President Mthokozisi Nkosi, highlights their accomplishments and the steps they are still taking towards achieving their goals.
Prior to the June exams, the SRC proposed the immediate extension of library hours during and leading up to the exam period. Their argument was that the allocated study areas become overcrowded during exams and a lack of access to academic facilities hampers students’ performance. As a result, the Merensky Library’s operational hours were extended and additional study venues were made available in the Humanities Building and two additional study areas were made available on the Groenkloof campus. Negotiations are currently underway to change Merensky’s library hours during the November exams.
The South African Student Congress Organisation’s (SASCO) Chairperson Tokologo Ngakane said that, “The SRC has done reasonably fair [sic]. Some notable achievements were the extension of the library hours during the exam period. I think a lot of students took advantage of that. I think we would appreciate [it] if it were to become a permanent feature.”
Another issue that has been prominent in SRC plans this year relates to the transporting of students to areas outside of Hatfield. The report states that the SRC is at an advanced stage of negotiation with UP management regarding the provision of buses to Sunnyside, Arcadia, Walkerville and the surrounding areas. Negotiations between the SRC and Gautrain management are also currently underway in an attempt to obtain special rates for students who make use of the Gautrain.
According to COPE@Tuks Chairperson Thabo Mdlalose, it was only after COPE@ Tuks made university management and the SRC aware of the transport problem that it was taken seriously. “As a result, COPE@ Tuks feels extremely discontent about what the SRC has done till date.”
Ngakane said that the transport issue is long overdue and needs to be resolved. “I know that even before some of us arrived at the University of Pretoria, it was always something that was being pushed by organisations such as ourselves (SASCO) and the ANCYL. It is good and rather encouraging that the SRC seems to be doing something about it but all SRCs have attempted [to do this] but commitment was never there to finish the project of f,” she said.
UP DA Youth Branch Leader Thorne Godinho said, “Transport is a major issue at Tuks. Students should never have to sleep in university bathrooms because they cannot access safe transport home. We are happy that the SRC is taking student concerns regarding transport seriously for the first time.”
According to AfriForum Youth UP Chairperson Barend Taute, the SRC has been successful in reaching most of its goals this year. “However, there are many areas [of] UP that still require assistance and development,” he said.
Similarly, Mdlalose said, “We have to give credit to the SRC for addressing some critical issues regarding students, however, it would be unrealistic and naive to assume that this current crop of the SRC has addressed every single concern regarding student grievances.”