University of Free State inaugurates party-free SRC

The University of the Free State inaugurated its new student representative council on Friday at the Bloemfontein campus after its first non-political-party elections.

“The successful and peaceful completion of the University of the Free State’s SRC elections 2011 heralds a new dawn for student governance,” said Rudi Buys, the dean of student affairs.

Richard Chemaly, the son of a Lebanese immigrant, was elected president of the new 2011 SRC.

Buys said the new SRC members were elected by students from all racial backgrounds and from across the student body at large.

The candidates had won voter support across racial lines and all SRC members were now recognised leaders on the basis of academic accountability, he said.

To stand for the SRC Kovsie candidates had to have an academic score of 60%.

Buys said students voted not only for seats on the SRC, but also for nine additional student councils.

“Each holds an ex officio seat on the SRC and allows for student governance in all the major student sectors of the student body, such as for postgraduate students, international students and all categories of student associations.”

The various councils now established include the student academic affairs council, the student associations’ council, the postgraduate student council, the international student council, the student media council, the residences student council, the commuter student council and the rag community service fundraising and service councils.

In addition, all faculties also introduced student representative structures at departmental and faculty level in 2011 to ensure student participation in faculty management and governance.

The student elections for 2011 at the UFS’s Qwaqwa campus were still run on a political basis.

In the Qwaqwa elections the South African Student Congress achieved 36.84% of the vote, the South African Democratic Students’ Movement 29%, the Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania 18% and the National Students’ Movement 12%.

Bongani Ncgaca was elected president of the SRC. The names of the rest of the SRC members at the campus would be announced on September 7.

The UFS’s central SRC would be established on September 8, by a joint sitting of the two SRCs.

Buys said the successful elections followed a yearlong review process of student governance by a broad student transformation forum (BSTF) consisting of 59 delegations from student organisations and residences.

The BSTF adopted independent candidacy for elective portfolios and additional student councils to provide ex officio seats on the SRC as the template for student governance.

Buys said the UFS council adopted a new SRC constitution, as drafted and submitted by the BSTF, in June.

In August 2010, UFS Rector Jonathan Jansen suspended the university’s SRC and its elections and banned any further activities by student party-political formations on campus after disruptions during the annual UFS and North West University’s sports contest.

Protesting SRC members and students from the South African Students’ Congress disrupted several netball and hockey matches, which led to the cancellation of some sport events.—Sapa


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