Stellenbosch University
Welcome to Stellenbosch University
Newly elected SRC inaugurated
Author: Jesse Bruwer / Student Affairs
Published: 31/10/2018

​Stellenbosch University’s (SU) Centre for Student Leadership and Structures (CSLS) under Division Student Affairs (DSAf) recently held the inauguration on the Students’ Representative Council (SRC). This ceremony was to formally introduce the new 2018/2019 members into their term in office and to also acknowledge the outgoing SRC. The concept of such a form of formal leadership was an opportunity to acknowledge the work of Student Governance under CSLS and was welcomed by SU management and students. Some of the guests included the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Wim de Villiers, Prof Arnold Schoonwinkel (Vice-Rector: Learning and Teaching), Prof Nico Koopman (Vice-Rector of Social Impact, Transformation and Personnel), management staff and staff of DSAf including the Senior Director, Dr Birgit Schreiber.

Mr Anele Mdepa, Manager at the Office of Student Governance, shared that it was a work of collaboration and reflection on what has happened this year and to appreciate the support and cross collaboration from and within the university. The inauguration looked into how the university is shaping itself in terms of innovation and moving forward, how a space of expanding horizons and new contents to seek open-mindedness can be created and what future leadership will look like. As part of the programme and inauguration, the SRC members also took a pledge to keep them accountable and transparent in the responsibility of their roles within and beyond Stellenbosch.

Prof Arnold Schoonwinkel officially opened the evening’s programme with a contextualisation of the SRC and student governance, followed by  Prof Wim de Villiers who welcomed the guests and reflected on the outgoing SRC and how “they put processes and frameworks in place so that the environment in the SRC speaks to constructive engagement, student, transformative student experience, and ethical leadership”.

Evenings like these give opportunity for mutual validation and consensus on the importance of leaders, said Mr Thulani Hlatswayo, intern at Student Governance. The inauguration was a priority to the Rectorate and staff of SU and they made effort to be there and to celebrate with the SRC and in this space of trust is established between SRC members and the Rectorate and those in management and leadership. The Rector enjoyed working with the previous SRC and engagements with them were based on constructivism and strategies as a matter of displaying leadership in a sense of managing skills, mediating, negotiating and contribution to interpersonal capabilities. The Rectorate and SRC were on a level of mutual consensus about moving forward, protecting and supporting students.

Senior Director of DSAf and the keynote speaker at the inauguration, Dr Birgit Schreiber, shared four points of advice to the new SRC members:  avoid confirmation bias and not to fall into a trap of blind spots but to rather seek to test ideas on a diverse team creating stronger ideas, seel consensus rather than just a majority, be aware of limited views and not to avoid making faulty inferences by distinguishing between incident and general practice and, finally, remember our (SU’s) past and to appreciate how far we have come – we are working to improve SU’s and ultimately South Africa’s success, but we should remember the progress that has been made thus far.

Miss Carli van Wyk, newly elected chair of the SRC, shared that the speakers of the evening shed light on the importance of student leadership for our university, and also our country. The evening celebrated the past year and allowed for a new chapter to start. “The new SRC feels very honoured to be serving on this body and are eager to start working. We know that the task at hand is not easy, but together as a team and the support fellow students, we can make a difference,” Carli added.