Student Affairs
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Smartphones keep students from concentrating during lectures keep students from concentrating during lectures Corporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie<p>​​Digital technologies, especially smartphones, have become such an integral part of our lives that it is difficult to picture life without them. Today, people spend over three hours on their phones every day.  <br></p><p>“While ever-smarter digital devices have made many aspects of our lives easier and more efficient, a growing body of evidence suggests that, by continuously distracting us, they are harming our ability to concentrate," say researchers Dr Daniel le Roux and Douglas Parry from the Cognition and Technology Research Group in the Department of Information Science at Stellenbosch University. Le Roux heads the research group, while Parry is a doctoral candidate. Their work focuses on the impact of digital media, particularly phones, on students' ability to concentrate in the classroom.</p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-embedcode ms-rte-embedil ms-rtestate-notify"><iframe src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe> </div><ul><li><em>Mobile users click </em><a href=""><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"><em><strong>here</strong></em></span></a><em> for video</em>.<br></li></ul><p>According to them, today's students are digital natives – individuals born after 1980 – who have grown up surrounded by digital media and quickly adapted to this environment to such an extent that “they are constantly media-multitasking, that is, concurrently engaging with, and rapidly switching between, multiple media to stay connected, always updated and always stimulated."<br></p><p>The researchers say it shouldn't be surprising that university lecturers are encouraged to develop <em>blended learning </em>initiatives and bring tech – videos, podcasts, Facebook pages, etc. – into the classroom more and more to offer students the enhanced experiences enabled by digital media.<img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/doug%20%26%20daan-web.jpg" alt="doug & daan-web.jpg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin:5px;width:360px;height:245px;" /><br></p><p>They warn, however, that an important effect of these initiatives has been to establish media use during university lectures as the norm.<br></p><p>“Studies by ourselves and researchers across the world show that students constantly use their phones when they are in class. <br></p><p>“But here's the kicker: if you think they are following the lecture slides or engaging in debates about the topic you are mistaken. In fact, this is hardly ever the case. When students use their phones during lectures they do it to communicate with friends, engage in social networks, watch YouTube videos or just browse around the web to follow their interests."<br></p><p>The researchers say there are two primary reasons why this form of behaviour is problematic from a cognitive control and learning perspective. <br></p><p>“The first is that when we engage in multitasking our performance on the primary task suffers. Making sense of lecture content is very difficult when you switch attention to your phone every five minutes. A strong body of evidence supports this, showing that media use during lectures is associated with lower academic performance." <br></p><p>“The second reason is that it harms students' ability to concentrate on any particular thing for an extended period of time. They become accustomed to switching to alternative streams of stimuli at increasingly short intervals. The moment the lecture fails to engage or becomes difficult to follow, the phones come out."<br></p><p>The researchers say awareness of this trend has prompted some lecturers, even at leading tech-oriented universities like MIT in the United States, to declare their lectures <em>device-free </em>in an attempt to cultivate engagement, attentiveness and, ultimately, critical thinking skills among their students.</p><p>“No one can deny that mobile computing devices make our lives easier and more fun in a myriad of ways. But, in the face of all the connectedness and entertainment they offer, we should be mindful of the costs." <br></p><p>The researchers encourage educational policy makers and lecturers, in particular, to consider the implications of their decisions with a much deeper awareness of the dynamics between technology use and the cognitive functions which enable us to learn. <br></p><ul><li><strong>Main photo</strong>: Students on their smartphones during a lecture.<br></li><li><strong>Photo 1</strong>: Researchers Douglas Parry and Dr Daniel le Roux. <strong>Photographe</strong>r: Stefan Els<br></li></ul><p><br></p><p><strong>FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES ONLY</strong></p><p>Dr Daniel le Roux</p><p>Cognition and Technology Research Group (<a href=""></a> )</p><p>Department of Information Science</p><p>Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences</p><p>Stellenbosch University</p><p>Tel: 021 808 3803</p><p>E-mail: <a href=""></a> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p><br></p>
Equality Unit celebrates a decade of partnership with a local NPO Unit celebrates a decade of partnership with a local NPODumile Mlambo<p>​</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community". These words of Anthony D'Angelo resonated well with the festivities of Thursday, 05 October as the Equality Unit at Stellenbosch University joined <em>Be Part Yoluntu Centre</em> for their 10<sup>th</sup> year anniversary in Mbekweni, Paarl. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The centre, which is an NPO that operates within the Mbekweni community celebrated its decade of existence by hosting a mini-symposium under the theme: <em>Difficult Conversations and Breaking the Silence.</em></p><p style="text-align:justify;">One of the founding members of the centre, Dr Lize Hellstrom, reflected on the ten year journey, stating all the challenges and successes they have encountered. She added that they chose to celebrate this day differently (with a symposium) because there's more work that  still needs to be done to educate societies on HIV-related stigma and challenging the myths and misconceptions about it.  </p><p style="text-align:justify;">During the symposium the message was very clear, that the current and dominant medical responses to the pandemic need to be reviewed. All the speakers argued that, these have to be accompanied by creative programmes and strategies that talks to the youth in the language they understand. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Dr James Lees who is a Senior Lecturer in the Education Faculty at the University of the Western Cape reflected: “We must always remember that the 'H' in HIV stands for 'Human', and that this epidemic is as much about us as it is about the virus".</p><p style="text-align:justify;"> </p><p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>The journey… </strong><strong> </strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Although <em>Be Part</em> is primarily a Clinical Research Centre whose vision is to empower the community by creating an awareness about health and well-being, it also has a shared vision with the Equality Unit on matters related to HIV and Aids. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">This, according to Mr Jaco Brink, head of Equality Unit, is the foundation of their ten year long partnership with <em>Be Part</em>. He further says this is one of the Equality Unit's longest running partnerships. From humble beginnings, the partnership started small in 2007 and included an award for a promising national public-private partnership initiative from the Mail & Guardian for the Afterhours Walk-in Clinic project at Victoria Street, Stellenbosch. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Every semester the unit sends a group of international students who study the IPSU <em>Understanding HIV in South Africa: A Health & Social Justice Perspective</em> to partner with members at the centre to design and implement a budgeted health communication project. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Although we as the Equality Unit, serve the campus community, we still recognise the value partners can add to the delivery of our core activities and strategic objectives. This is one such partnership", said Jaco who was very instrumental in pioneering this partnership.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">He concluded by saying that the university upholds a tradition of partnerships (locally and internationally) in order to deliver its mission and meet the needs of the communities it serves. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">For more information about the Equality Unit and specifically the Unit's HIV and gender portfolio click <a href="/english/learning-teaching/student-affairs/cscd/equality-unit">here.</a></p><p><strong><em>*The university boasts a fully-fledged </em></strong><strong><em>Centre for Partnerships & Internationalisation (CPI). </em></strong></p>
Rector’s Awards for SU’s top students’s Awards for SU’s top studentsCorporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie<p>​​​Stellenbosch University (SU)'s top students who excelled in areas such as academics, sports, leadership and social impact were honoured with Rector's Awards for Excellent Achievement on Thursday (5 October 2017). The annual award ceremony took place at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS).<br></p><p>The following students received SU medals for being the top master's student in their respective faculties: Christiane Schaeffler (Arts and Social Sciences); Jadri Barnard (Education); Niel Miller (AgriSciences); Monika du Toit (Economic and Management Sciences); Kari Jonker (Medicine and Health Sciences); Josh Mitchell (Engineering); Sunel de Kock (Science); Cecile van Schalkwyk (Law); and Susan Mellows (Theology).</p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-embedcode ms-rte-embedil ms-rtestate-notify"><iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0"></iframe> </div><ul><li><em>​Mobile users click <a href="" style="text-decoration-line:underline;"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">here</strong></a> </em><em>for video</em><br></li></ul><p>An award for excellence in Community Interaction was given to Tafadzwa Girupira, while Lize-Marie Doubell, Lee Baatjies, Melt Hugo, Khensani Hlongwane and Gideon Basson were honoured for excellence in leadership.<br></p><p>Also among the awardees were Paralympic athlete Dyan Buis and Olympic athlete Justine Palframan who received the Rector's Award for Excellent Sport Achievement.<br></p><p>A special Rector's Award went to <a href="/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=4749" style="text-decoration:underline;"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style="text-decoration:underline;">Anita Engelbrecht</strong></a>. Suffering from spastic diplegia, Engelbrecht has been in a wheelchair all her life. She was born prematurely and experienced an oxygen shortage shortly after birth. This affected part of her brain that controls the development of motor functions.  </p><p>“It is fantastic for me to receive recognition for all the blood, sweat and tears that went into my studies. It's a privilege to help make a difference in society," Engelbrecht said. <img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/R3_preview.jpeg" alt="R3_preview.jpeg" class="ms-rtePosition-2" style="margin:5px;width:450px;height:286px;" /><br></p><p>The guest speaker Dr Nondumiso Mzizana, Chief Executive Officer of Sikelela Medical & Dental Suppliers and recipient of a Diploma in Odontology at SU, was nominated by the Student Representative Council for the Exceptional Alumni Award. <br></p><p>In her speech, Mzizana congratulated and encouraged students by sharing some of her life lessons with them.<br></p><p>“You have to be passionate about what you do. You have to love it. You have to believe in yourself and have resilience." <br></p><p>“Work harder and never stop educating yourself," she added.<br></p><p>In his congratulatory message, Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, praised students for their hard work.  <br></p><p>“Behind every achievement lies focus, dedication and persistence. That is a big component of what is being recognised here tonight. Hang on to that lesson, especially when the going gets tough, and you will go far in life."<br></p><p>De Villiers also reminded them that SU stands for excellence.<br></p><ul><li>Click<strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"> </strong><a href="/english/Documents/newsclips/RECIPIENTS%20RECTOR%27S%20AWARDS%202017_pdf.pdf" style="text-decoration:underline;"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style="text-decoration:underline;">here</strong></a> for the complete list of students who received Rector's Awards in 2017.<br></li><li>Click <a href="" style="text-decoration:underline;"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style="text-decoration:underline;">here</strong></a> for photos of the event.<br></li></ul><p><strong>Main photo</strong>: Prof Wim de Villiers with some of the students at the award's ceremony. </p><p><strong>Photo 1</strong>: Former SRC Chairperson Nomzamo Ntombela, Prof Wim de Villiers, and Dr Nondumiso Mzizana at the ceremony. <strong>Photographer</strong>: Hennie Rudman</p><p><br></p>
Four Matie students’ recipe for success Matie students’ recipe for successSandra Mulder<p>​​​​​​Commitment, confidence, perseverance, self-discipline and stepping out of one's comfort zone: these are some of the qualities exhibited by four Stellenbosch University (SU) students who are recipients of the Gradstar Top 100 Graduate Employers and Future Leaders Awards for 2017.<br></p><p>Lee Baatjes and Avuyile Mbangatha (both studying MB,ChB), Cameron Foster (Investment Management) and Amy Pike (Fine Arts and Psychology) received this honour after entering Gradstar's online national competition – a platform that celebrates South Africa's leading graduate employers and also recognises and honours the best students at South African tertiary institutions.</p><p>These four recipients of the Gradstar awards were in full agreement that their participation had been a great experience and had helped them tremendously in preparing for the day when they need to enter the workplace.</p><p>To him being one of the 100 Top Leaders and Achievers in the country was a phenomenal achievement, Avuyile said, especially as he was one of the youngest.  He added: “As a former SA Junior Research Ambassador, it provides a platform to be able to network and shape my vision of giving back to communities and health systems one day."</p><p>Avuyile's advice to students was short and sweet: “Remember, life is tough, but so are you."</p><p>Amy's advice to fellow students was to look for opportunities and pursue them.  She explained: “You cannot expect them to come to you and you need to strive towards growing yourself as a person and realising your responsibility not only to your country, university, or peers, but also to yourself. Be committed and confident in what you wish to achieve in this world, and make every effort to fulfil it."  She added that she was proud of being chosen as a top student, especially receiving recognition on behalf of the smaller departments at SU such as Fine Arts.</p><p>Lee, who served as Chairperson of the Tygerberg Student Representative Council, is of the opinion that all students receive equal opportunities to prosper.  He said he could take all the attributes, skills and lessons learnt in his time at the University into his future workplace and bring about change.  He continued: “Students need to live a disciplined and well-balanced life.  Grab every opportunity that comes your way and be a servant leader in your community. Step out of your comfort zone and endeavour to make a change in your society."</p><p>Cameron has been one of the top students for two years in a row.  Said Cameron: “I feel immensely honoured because in this competition leadership and readiness for work are tested."</p><ul><li>The process for being selected as one of the 100 Top Students includes psychometric testing using Testgrid and being interviewed, amongst other things.  The competition is designed to emulate the typical recruitment process that students undergo when applying for a graduate programme.</li></ul><p> The students will attend an awards ceremony in February 2018.<br></p><p>Caption: Stellenbosch University's top students are pictured here (from left) Cameron Foster; Amy Pike; Lee Baatjes and Avuyile Mbangatha.</p><p> </p><p> </p><p><br></p>
More Maties benefit from Vlakte Bursary Maties benefit from Vlakte BursaryCorporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie<p>“This is another of those historic moments when we revisit the past in order to create a different, more just future," Stellenbosch University (SU) Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers told the second group of Matie students to receive the University's Vlakte Bursary since its inception in 2015.<br></p><p>He was speaking at a celebratory event held in the Memory Room of the SU Archive on the Stellenbosch Campus on Friday afternoon (8 September). </p><p>De Villiers, who said that the Vlakte Bursary is very close to his heart, announced the establishment of the Fund at his inauguration in April 2015 as a means of restitution and development. Residents of <em>Die Vlakte</em>, an area close to the town centre of Stellenbosch, were mostly coloured people who were forcibly removed in the 1960s under the Group Areas Act. </p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-embedcode ms-rte-embedil ms-rtestate-notify"><iframe src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe> </div><p><em>Cellphone users click </em><a href=""><em>here</em> </a><br></p><p>“While the Group Areas Act and forced removals in Stellenbosch gave rise to much bitterness, it did not succeed in demolishing the awareness that in this town, we all share a history that cannot be easily disentangled. These days the University is working hard to become more inclusive, and both our student and staff bodies are slowly but surely becoming more diverse. We are also reaching out to the community to close the gap between us," De Villiers said. </p><p><strong>Recipients</strong></p><p>This year's new recipients are Kristen Adams, a Masters Degree student in Music; Ashley Solomons, a second year BA (Visual Communication Design) student; Aqeelah Hendrickse, a first year BA (Social Work) student; Ethan du Toit, a first year BCom (Financial Accounting) student and Daniel Adams, a first year MB, ChB (Medicine) student. Two of the 2016 recipients, Melissa Hector (MB, ChB) and Wesley Gabriels (BA), again received the bursary this year.</p><p>“It makes us proud to represent our families from <em>Die Vlakte</em>. It's an honour to receive the bursary and to make more of our studies," Kristen Adams said who also spoke at the event. </p><p>“It was quite overwhelming, the history, and especially to come into this room (the Memory Room) displaying the entire history of <em>Die Vlakte</em> that I have not spoken about with my family. It is quite emotional to know what my grandparents went through and to read there on the wall that they have been kicked out by students. It is heart-breaking."</p><p>“The bursary is an opportunity for us to honour our grandparents. It is taking a huge weight off our shoulders to be able to study," said Daniel Adams, Kristen's brother. </p><p>Ashley Solomons says she is thankful for the bursary and it is a tremendous help. “It is a nice feeling to keep the legacy going and honour your grandparents. I know of the struggle they went through and it is so evident in their lives still now. I do not think the bursary makes up for the hardship that people went through but it is an action in the right direction that people can benefit from."</p><p>Aqeelah Hendrickse is thankful for the bursary as it is paying for all her studies. Her father and grandfather were born in the Vlakte.</p><p>Prospective students who lived in the area, their children and grandchildren can apply for the bursaries. The bursary covers basic class fees for the minimum length of the student's chosen programme. </p><p>A community committee assists with the verification of applicants' association with <em>Die Vlakte</em>, and the allocation criteria were applied by the Bursary Committee consisting of three members from the community and three SU staff members.  </p><p>Photo: Prof Wim de Villiers and Kirsten Adams (Photo credit: Anton Jordaan)<br></p>
600 mentors receive training mentors receive trainingMedia Officer: Student Affairs / Mediabeampte: Studentesake<p style="text-align:justify;">​Mentors are senior students who are appointed in residences and Private Student Organisations (PSO's) to assist newcomers with their adjustment and transition to university life. Each new student has access to a mentor who already plays an important role during the welcoming period with general assistance regarding university life queries and psychosocial support, but is it ultimately a support structure throughout the first year at university. Through the mentor, the new students are introduced to the Wellness-programme and participate in engagement sessions that highlight the different dimensions of wellness that would contribute to their holistic wellbeing.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Centre for Student Communities (CSC), as part of the Division of Student Affairs (DSA), recently completed its annual training programme for the newly appointed head mentors and mentors. The training sessions of the forty new head mentors, who lead all the mentors of their respective residences or PSO's, was aimed at building a mutual understanding within the team and using one another's strengths to achieve success. Ms Joy Petersen, the coordinator of the Mentor Programme, says the intention is to refine and strengthen their emotional intelligence, tap into the power of their teams and learn the art of communicating effectively within their communities. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The training programme for the six-hundred mentors was focused on the 'Listen, Live & Learn'-model, which forms part of a greater theme in CSC. The first session 'I Listen to You: Power of Communication' was aimed at creating spaces where students felt comfortable to express themselves, in order for others to listen to their stories. The 'I Learn from You: The New Normal'-session had the objective to equip mentors with the necessary skills to orientate new students in the environment which they will find themselves in – an environment that will soon become their new 'normal'. And the final session, 'You Choose How You Want To Live', was aimed at the BeWell-programme, a six-part programme which all mentors and mentees partake in, focused on the emotional, physical, intellectual, spiritual, career and social wellbeing of the new student.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The aims of the BeWell programme are:</p><ol><li>Address and enhance wellness variables that impact the academic performance of first-year students;</li><li>Continuously use the system's tracking data to identify more wellness factors that may affect academic performance;</li><li>Individualise and optimise the overall development and experience of both mentors and mentees;</li><li>Investigate the possibility of using the programme as a vehicle to develop the university's graduate attributes and to equip mentors with valuable employability skills;</li><li>Track the personal growth of mentors and mentees;</li><li>Create a flourishing campus culture.</li></ol><p style="text-align:justify;">When new students arrive at a residence or PSO, a mentor should be allocated to them. Should a student not be allocated a mentor, or have any queries, please contact Client Services at (021) 808 9111 or <a href=""></a>.</p>
SU improves its position on Times Higher Education rankings improves its position on Times Higher Education rankingsCorporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie<p>​Stellenbosch University (SU) has improved its position on the <a href=""><em>Times Higher Education</em> (THE) World University Rankings</a><strong>.</strong> In the 2018 version, which has just been released (Tuesday 5 September), SU is now placed in the category 351 – 400.</p><p>More than a 1000 institutions from 77 countries feature in the rankings. Last year SU was in the category 401-500.</p><p>“Stellenbosch University is pleased with its new position on this particular ranking, but <em>maintains a nuanced approach to university rankings in general – given the current realities of the institution, our country and our continent as well as the methodology of the various rankings of which there are well-documented differences of opinion," </em>says Prof Eugene Cloete, Vice-Rector: Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Study. </p><p>“The fact that Stellenbosch is included in some of the most well-known rankings over the last few years, is however a strong indication of the institution receiving international recognition for the quality and stature of its teaching and research," he adds. </p><p>“We are also pleased with the fact that we have shown an improvement on the research pillar of the THE World University 2018 Rankings. This is a reflection of the University's research status in South Africa and on the continent." </p><p>According to figures of South Africa's Department of Higher Education and Training, SU has maintained the highest research output per fulltime staff member of all universities in the country for the last seven consecutive years.</p><p> “Our clear point of departure is still that we do not place too much emphasis on rankings, that academic excellence is non-negotiable, that quality always comes first and that no attempt is being made to artificially influence any rankings," adds Cloete. </p><p>According to the <em>Times Higher Education</em> World University Rankings, research-intensive universities across all their core missions such as teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook are judged. 13 calibrated performance indicators are used to provide comparisons. </p>
SU and students on a journey together – Prof Wim de Villiers and students on a journey together – Prof Wim de VilliersCorporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie<p>​​Students are fellow travellers on Stellenbosch University (SU)'s journey of inclusivity and of building a community for all. <br>This was the message of the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of SU Prof Wim de Villiers to student leaders in the Kruiskerk in Stellenbosch on Monday (4 September 2017). He was speaking at SU's annual Student Leaders' Conference (SU Leads) taking place from 3-4 September. </p><p>SU Leads, hosted by the Centre for Student Leadership and Structures in the Division of Student Affairs, annually offers a training and development platform to close to 1 500 student leaders in various structures throughout Stellenbosch University.</p><p>The Rector's <a href="/english/Documents/Rector%27s%20speeches/20170904%20Wim%20de%20Villiers%20-%20SU%20Leads%20(FIN).pdf" target="_blank" style="text-decoration:underline;"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0" style="text-decoration:underline;">speech</strong></a> formed part of a range of discussions on various topics taking place during the conference.</p><div class="ms-rtestate-read ms-rte-embedcode ms-rte-embedil ms-rtestate-notify"><iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0"></iframe> </div><p><em>Mobile users click </em><a href="" style="text-decoration:underline;"><em class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"><strong>here</strong></em></a><br></p><p>In his talk, Prof De Villiers described leadership as a journey and told students that the University wants to walk this journey with them. </p><p>“Leadership is a profound journey on different levels. I welcome you as fellow travellers, and I look forward to walking with you on the path of leadership here at this University.</p><p>“You folks have seized that opportunity … which is the chance we have as leaders to learn more about what is going on in the world around us, but also to influence things, to shape society, to make it a better place for all."</p><p>De Villiers emphasised the important input from students as SU moves forward in terms of its new vision and institutional strategy.</p><p>“Students are a key stakeholder, and your role as student leader is vital. We need to go forward together. For nearly 100 years, we have been learning, growing and moving forward together. May we as leaders at this university proceed in that spirit," he said.</p><p>De Villiers also encouraged the students to debate issues in higher education and at SU that affect them directly.</p><p>“We should have these debates, engage in an open conversation, but always do so in a value-driven way," he said.<br></p><ul><li><strong>Photo</strong>: Prof Wim de Villiers speaking to student leaders at the SU Leads Conference.<br></li><li><strong>Photographer</strong>: Henk Oets​<br></li></ul>
All disabilities deserve our attention disabilities deserve our attentionMarcia Lyner-Cleophas<p>As we celebrate Casual Day (1 September) with people with disabilities, we should make sure that we pay equal attention to the different disabilities that people may have, writes Dr Marcia Lyner-Cleophas of the Disability Unit at Stellenbosch University in an article published in Cape Argus on Thursday (31 August 2017).<br></p><ul><li>Read the complete article below.<br></li></ul><p><strong>Celebrating our diversity, disabilities and all</strong></p><p><strong>Marcia Lyner-Cleophas*</strong></p><p>Every year on the first Friday of September, South Africans from all walks of life celebrate Casual Day to raise funds for and create awareness about people with disabilities. Together with other campaigns aimed at improving the lives of people with disabilities, Casual Day shows that society is increasingly becoming more responsive to acknowledging that people with disabilities are like all people - they just happen to have a disability too.  <br></p><p>Having a disability is not just about someone who might be using a wheelchair or crutches to move about or having a guide dog to assist with arriving safely at a place. Disabilities are much more diverse. For example, many people have health difficulties, which include mental health challenges such as debilitating Depressive Disorders or Neurodevelopmental Disorders, that can become quite disabling at times. Such disabilities are rather silent, as one cannot visibly see them. It is this diversity in disability that we are celebrating on Casual Day. <br></p><p>The importance of recognising diversity in disability and striving to be truly inclusive of people with disabilities was also something that I tried to address in my recent doctorate in psychology at Stellenbosch University (SU). The study specifically reflected on the experiences of SU staff who support students with disabilities as well as on students' understanding of the support received at the university. It also examined practices of inclusion and exclusion from the perspective of people with disabilities. <br></p><p>Interviews with staff across campus revealed a clear understanding that diversity and disability are intertwined. For example, one staff member said: “…diversity does not refer only to colour, it also refers to disabilities…the designated groups… in addition to ethnicity and gender, and there is a disability category. So if we talk diversity we also talk disability."<br></p><p>Staff who engaged with students with more diverse disabilities gained a better understanding of the disability and how best to support the student. Their experience of support was enriched with new knowledge which they could then use as part of the subsequent academic support for that particular student. </p><p>This also encouraged and gave other staff members the confidence to support students and engage further with their disability. As one staff member noted: “…we learn out of experience from our current students. If we accept a student, each year there are challenges. We have a student this year who sits with a camera in class…he must focus on the board and the camera zooms in on the board, and then on a screen in front of him and he can see what is there…But if I get such a student next year again, then I will know how I will manage such a student; which bench or which seat I will typically reserve for such a student…but because we have a bit of experience of what happened this year or what happened last year, we try to bear this in mind and do a bit of forward planning."<br></p><p>What my study also highlighted was that some students face ongoing struggles regarding the impact of less visible disabilities on the academic functioning. One student said: “In general, people on campus are not accessible if your sickness is not observable. I struggle much with my studies and have missed classes and tutorials as a result of circumstances".<br></p><p>Another student commented: “My disability prevents me from studying late at night, given that sleep is needed to prevent attacks. Sometimes I get attacks created by flickering lights, too little sleep, a broken down immune system…and this makes it difficult to attend classes and to write tests. My chronic migraines that I also experience resulted in my missing lectures recently." What these accounts show is that there is diversity in disability and that we must also recognise those disabilities that are not visible.<br></p><p>That is why the 2017 Casual Day theme “Celebrating Diversity" is so significant. This theme aims to open our minds to the diverse ways in which disability is represented in society and how we respond to this, (sometimes) unwittingly, by disregarding and not fully understanding the severity of functioning in different contexts.  It also wants to remind us of how society is sometimes disabling us and actually the cause of disability.<br></p><p>We should embrace Casual Day as a chance for us to think more holistically about each other and the different and unique ways we function in this world. It's a good opportunity for us to show that we are indeed serious about the inclusion and participation of people with disabilities in all spheres of society.  <br></p><p><em>*</em><em>Dr Marcia Lyner-Cleophas heads the Disability Unit at the Centre for Student Counselling and Development in the Division Student Affairs at Stellenbosch University.</em></p><p><em> </em></p><p><br></p><p><br></p>
Tygerberg celebrates outstanding students at Honours Dinner celebrates outstanding students at Honours DinnerMedia Officer: Student Affairs / Mediabeampte: Studentesake<p style="text-align:justify;">​​​The Tygerberg Student Council (TSR), recently held the annual prestige Honours Dinner, where outstanding students were awarded with colours in the categories of Academics and Leadership, in accordance with the TSR constitution The keynote speaker, Mr Stephan Claassen, Provincial Head of First National Bank, congratulated the students with their achievements and encouraged them to be resilient and to be the innovative entrepreneurs of the future.  The TSR Honorary President, Prof Wynand van der Merwe also attend the event to celebrate the success of the students.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Among the top achievers who received colours in the category of Academics, nominated by die Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences for students who achieved an aggregate of at least 75% over four years, were fifteen MBChB students, five physiotherapy students, four occupational therapy students, two speech therapy students and two dietetics students. Twenty-one students received merit awards as the top class of 2016, including four students who also received colours for academics.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Esté Louw, an occupational therapy student, received the award for top student of her class for 2016 and full academic colours. Nick Wayne and Quintin van Staden both received colours for leadership.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The Division of Student Affairs wishes to congratulate all the students with their outstanding achievements and is excited to see what the future has to offer for them.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><br></p><p style="text-align:justify;"><img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/HonoursDinner.jpg" alt="HonoursDinner.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:400px;height:253px;" /> </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Celebrating with the students were Anele Mdepa (Student Governance Manager), Dr Birgit Schreiber (Senior Director: Student Affairs) and Tonia Overmeyer (Director: Centre for Student Leadership and Structures).</p><p style="text-align:justify;"><br></p><p><img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/NickWayneWynandVanDerMerwe.JPG" alt="NickWayneWynandVanDerMerwe.JPG" style="margin:5px;width:400px;height:267px;" /><br>Nick Wayne, who received colours for Leadership, and TSR Honorary President, Prof Wynand van der Merwe, share the podium.</p><p><span><span><br></span></span></p><p><span><span>Main image: Lee Baatjes (TSR Chairperson 2016/17) and Tonia Overmeyer (<span><span>Director: Centre for Student Leadership and Structures</span></span>).</span></span><br></p>