In an exclusive interview, Grocott’s Mail asked 2018 SRC President, Nhlakanipho Mahlangu pressing questions about the academic year ahead. Mahlangu is reading towards a Post-Graduate Diploma in Media Management (PDMM), after completing a Bachelors of Social Sciences (BSoS – Industrial economics, Sociology, Political and International studies).
On what students and the Grahamstown community can expect from campus leadership in 2018.
One of the key things that this year’s SRC is being visible and being as good communicators as we can be. Part of being a student representative, what we want to do is to be in touch with our student body as much as possible. I think they can expect an SRC that is far more accessible than what it has been in previous years.
On what innovative ways the SRC plans to engage the students
We have a wonderfully vibrant media officer. He is really in touch with social media and I know he is looking to get a media team. But we don’t want to hear about issues for the first time on social media which has been the trend. So, a mixture of traditional forms and social media.
On plans to integrate students with the Grahamstown community
“We all know about the ‘purple bubble’, so already through O-Week there is a community engagement endeavour that involves students leaving the university and going out into the community and doing some work [and]engaging. Community engagement needs to be enshrined in the way we are taught. It can’t be a matter of choice, it can’t be a matter of some students engaging and others don’t.
On how the #FeesMustFall movement has affected the leadership style
It has brought about a need for leadership that is more in touch with students and engages politically. No one in this campus is able to escape the politics of their identity and I think that is a huge part of how I plan to lead and how this SRC has been constructed. We have a lot to balance what is best for students and what is just. With #FeesMustFall, I think there is a lot of “brokenness” on our campus. I think there is weariness [against protest action. As a student body we really need to take time to heal, rebuild and figure out how to be activists sustainably–I mean sustainable for our own health, for our families and for future generations.
On advice for first year students
Take time to find yourself. Don’t fear your own company. And please don’t be afraid to ask for help. [Some]students go through some of the most painful experiences. Don’t wait until you’re excluded, you’re homeless or whatever, to ask for help. I came from a place with a lot of pride so I would never [ask for help]. Please come to your SRC when you need representation. Also don’t assume you know the people around you or where they are from. Take time to get to know [them]and relish that experience.
- Students can find the SRC on Facebook or email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Students interested in assisting in developing media for the SRC can contact email@example.com.