The election of the 2020/21 Students' Representative Council (SRC) of Stellenbosch University (SU) was successfully concluded this week with the announcement of the newly elected chairperson and vice-chair.
Xola Njengele, a postgraduate student in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, was elected as chairperson by the members of the incoming SRC. Njengele also serves on the incumbent SRC as the Chairperson of the Academic Affairs Council. The new campus leaders start their term on 21 September, with the commencement of the fourth academic term at SU.
Kira Alberts, a final year BA (International Studies) student, was elected vice-chair.
The 2020/21 Students' SRC election was conducted entirely online for the first time, due to the COVID-19 threat. This year, a total of 3 543 students voted in the election of the campus leaders, the second highest voter turnout in the past five years – the 2018 election saw 4 100 votes. The election has also seen the highest number of candidates in recent years, with 20 students availing themselves as candidates. Some 348 students attended the online caucuses, where the candidates shared their mission statements and engaged in robust dialogue.
SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers thanked the outgoing SRC and congratulated the incoming members and chairperson: “The role of the SRC is integral to the operations of the University. We are committed to involving and engaging students as co-participants and co-creators of a transformative student experience. So, our gratitude to the outgoing SRC for serving the student body. And well done to the incoming SRC. We look forward to working with all of you to overcome the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic so that we can go forward together. We must continue working on our cohesion as a university community, especially now that we are physically apart and are experiencing all kinds of pressures on the social fabric of our broader society."
The nine elected members of the SRC were announced on 25 August 2020. They are:
- Xola Njengele
- Viwe Kobokana
- Ayesha Abou-Zeid
- Kira Alberts
- Unathi Ngumbela
- Makabongwe Kaseke
- Philip Visage
- Eduard Zehrt
- Gina Sibanda
The nine elected and ex officio members together comprise the SRC. The ex officio members are:
- Jarryt Luyt (Chairperson: Academic Affairs Council)
- Nomzamo Buthelezi (Chairperson: Societies Council)
- Leoné Wilkinson (Chairperson: Prim Committee)
- Joshua Eva (Vice-Chairperson: Prim Committee)
- Masixole Ndamandama (Chairperson: Senior Prim Committee)
- Kristin Arends (Chairperson: Tygerberg Student Representative Council)
- Avumile Finiza (Captain: Military Academy)
Dr Choice Makhetha (Senior Director: Student Affairs) said that she was delighted by the conclusion of the first fully online election and thanked all the involved parties. She congratulated Njengele and said that his election was no surprise to her, as he served in the interest of the students during the past year. “You remained focused, present and accessible. May you term in office be fulfilling." Makhetha encouraged Njengele to build a strong and united team that prioritise high impact issues to change the lives of students.
The SU Statute provides for an SRC as the body that represents the interests of the student community. In terms of the Statute, students formally participate in SU's statutory bodies – the Institutional Forum, faculty boards, Senate and Council – through members from the student body elected by the SRC.
There are also regular scheduled meetings between the Rectorate and the SRC Executive Committee where any issue can be raised and discussed, and student representatives are encouraged to give feedback to the student body. In addition, the Rectorate is accountable to the SU Council, where students are also represented.