The Department of Student Governance and Development at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) is currently hosting an online Student Representative Council (SRC) Induction Workshop to provide guidance on the University’s operations to the newly elected SRC leadership.
The virtual workshop began on 21 January 2021 and is scheduled to continue throughout this week via Microsoft Teams.
Addressing the new SRC leadership during the inauguration, DUT Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Thandwa Mthembu said contrary to what has become common in political circles, their election is certainly not for self-aggrandisement and for being lined up for corrupt benefits. Prof Mthembu urged the SRC to bear in mind that academic freedom is an important feature of a university’s institutional identity and culture, but said it cannot be that when a group of students does not wish to attend lectures, then by sheer force and violence, all students are prevented from attending lectures.
Thobeka Shozi from the Department of Student Governance and Development said the online induction began two weeks ago and has been going on since then.
“On 21 January 2021, the induction started with a team building exercise for the SRC. The next day, 22 January 2021 was dedicated to Strategic Planning, which involved the SRC’s operational plans. From 25 to 29 January 2021, we have had different departments engaging with the SRC each day,” said Shozi.
She said so far the SRC has had a chance to have discussions with the following departments; Student Governance and Development, Student Housing, Finance, Procurement, Financial Aid and Legal. This week from 1 to 5 February 2021, Shozi said the departments that the SRC will meet consist of the Advancement and Alumni Relations, Communications, Disability, Library and Protection Services Unit.
Thus far, Shozi said the sessions have been mostly interactive, where the SRC have been asking questions, working towards understanding the different structures and departments of the University.
“It has been more about learning about the policies and documents that are existing at the university. More than anything, the SRC has been learning about their existence, its functions, its powers and responsibilities as sort of parameters that guide their daily operations,” said Shozi.
The main aim of the induction which is held annually for the elected SRC leadership, is to show them the available resources and the procedures to follow within a University environment. The SRC was encouraged to make use of resources available to them within the university and were given proper guidance in using these resources at their disposal.
Speaking on the SRC induction, SRC General Secretary, Njabulo Ntshaba said; so far they are happy with the induction as it is very informative but raised concerns on it being held virtually.
“The major challenge is that we are limited in terms of resources to access the online induction. It makes it more difficult for us to get all the information provided. The truth is that we are unable to access or participate fully due to network problems. Some days you get in and after five minutes the network kicks you out, you end up missing out on some information. It has been very helpful as we get to interact with the different departments, some which are key since we are in the registrations phase,” said Ntshaba.
Furthermore, he said the induction helps them access new information which was not available to them previously. He hopes that after lockdown DUT will plan another physical induction which will serve as a meet and greet.
“Getting information from the horse’s mouth has helped us to get a better understanding than relying on the information that we had. We hope that there will be another physical induction after lockdown for us to be able to participate fully and be able to see and meet the people from the different departments. We had challenges previously not getting responses from other departments but meeting the relevant people from the departments will help us channel our queries to the right people. We hope this induction will help us form fruitful partnerships which will assist us during our term of office and be able to assist the students as per their mandate,” concluded Ntshaba.
Pictured: DUT’s newly elected SRC leadership