By ‘Odidi Matai-Sigudla
Tensions were high at the Barratt Lecture venue at Rhodes University on 6 September when students were given a platform to voice their grievances to the current Student Representative Council (SRC). What started as a regular meeting between students and the SRC resulted in students begrudgingly leaving the venue.
Students spoke about the current SRC leadership and issues they have experienced and asked for possible solutions to some of their issues, especially concerning exams starting soon.
To put the students at ease about the issues raised, SRC president Avuxeni Tyala introduced the “Food for the Brain” project that the SRC will launch in the first week of exams.
“The intent is because we’ve seen the contextual issues that the student body is facing; food for the brain is supposed to give you that boost of energy before you write your exams. That’s something we’re doing as the SRC,” said Tyala, adding that the previous arrangement of extending the library, Barratt lecture venue, and dining hall hours to accommodate load-shedding as the exam period approaches.
Esethu Seholoba, a student at Rhodes University, suggested that the Academic Council discuss possible support each Faculty can provide students to ensure that they pass their exams. She added that each Faculty should ensure that they state the criteria students need to succeed. “If we are just expecting a student to get to class [to pass], it’s not working,” said Seholoba.
Another student, Nkosinamandla Machastella, says that there is a high failure rate in the Sociology Department, which is unprecedented. “As tutors, we’ve raised the issue of support [several times]because we have noted that students are not getting what they are supposed to get.”
In response, Tyala informed the students that the onus is also on them to attend the necessary workshops or extra lessons from different departments. She added that students do not engage by saying, “So when they put this there, they find that only two students show up, only five. But [during class, the majority say]that they want to attend these classes.”
Another student accused the SRC of lying. “A lot of you made promises. So, would you guys, as the SRC, say that you failed? Because you guys didn’t deliver most of the things that you’ve promised,” he said.
Tyala, who seemed a bit taken aback by the accusations, responded that the students would tell her whether she failed. “I’d like to think I didn’t. But if I did fail, or if any other president fails, there is something in the Constitution called the vote of no confidence,” said Tyala.
“I personally am very proud of what the SRC 2023 has done. They’ve achieved immense things collectively. And I should actually take the platform now to congratulate the SRC of 2024 and say that they’re going to do even bigger things.”