As everyone went to the voting stations today to exercise their democratic right, Student News Grid has decided to focus on student participation in the Student Representative Council (SRC) elections at the University of the Free State (UFS).
The annual SRC elections are fast approaching and much like the country’s attitude towards national elections; the event is met with a great deal of apathy on the UFS Bloemfontein campus. According to Vhugala Ntakeni, the College of Student Affairs officer, out of a student body of 17 000 only 4 000 students actively participate in the SRC elections. This impassive attitude is what leads to the disillusionment of the SRC on the part of the students because often the very same indifferent students become outraged at the decisions taken by the SRC. “We need to educate students on how to get the SRC to work for them” said Nthakeni.
There is a sentiment shared amongst members of the student body that political affiliations amongst SRC members and political campaigning of SRC members is detrimental to the SRC structure. A university employee, who prefers to remain anonymous, agrees with this sentiment and explained that “these political associations are using the SRC members as tools to further their own agenda’s and we should do away with their influence.”
However, Nthakeni feels that running under political organisations or any association for that matter is not to be frowned upon with suspicion, but is in fact a necessary component of the SRC structure. He believes that political representation within the SRC and on the campus itself is vital because this is the system of politics used in the world beyond the university. Nthakeni went on to say that there is “no way can you say that you are preparing a student for the outside world when you are withholding the political process from them. We need to prepare our students for what’s out there. This is how lobby groups work. One person endorses another in exchange for their promise to execute the endorsers mandate once they are elected. This is the world we live in.”
For those of you who missed our article on the political climate at UP.
Written by: Tammy Fray