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Rhodes responds to student grievances

Rhodes University has issued a statement in response to the list of grievances made by students last night.  The university has answered each of the grievances in point form, detailing either how these things have been solved, what the appropriate avenues for students still facing these issues are, and more. 

Responses and grievances have been edited for shortness and clarity.

1. FINANCIAL EXCLUSION AND HISTORICAL DEBT:

Students raised the issue of people who owe money to the university, and how they are prevented from registering.  The issue of students on NSFAS and the cycle of debt they are caught in was also raised, with a call for the university to account for students whose financial payment plans were rejected by the university’s Fees Committee. 

The university responded: No student has been financially excluded. Any exclusions have been due to academic results. If a student has been financially excluded they can email the Director of Student Affairs, Dr Vassiliou on c.vassiliou@ru.ac.za


SRC Secretary General and former Student Benefits Councillor Happyness Raselabe has released a statement also on the issue of financial exclusion and the process of appealing for financial assistance.  Raselabe highlights that there are two committees that deal with fees and funding: the Fees Committee consisting of staff members such as Dr. Chrissie Boughey, and another committee consisting of two SRC representatives and Desiree Wicks from the Registrar’s Office.

Raselabe details the process of how a student can contact the university for assistance: “Normally a student would send an email indicating that they did not get funding this year.”  The student must forward an appeal letter to Raselabe detailing what may have affected their academic performance, their willingness to improve their grades, and for supporting documents if they have them.

The committee looks at appeals on a case to case basis, along with each student’s academic transcript.  They mainly deal with students who didn’t perform well academically.  Students who pass 75% of their courses get funding, as well as those who pass 50% of their course which is a major.


2. ACCOMMODATION AND TRANSPORT FOR STUDENTS:

  This was in relation to complaints that students were kicked out of residence because they had not received their supplementary exam results.  In addition, students asked that the university provide transport for students who were excluded and could not afford to come back. 

The university’s response: Students were not ‘thrown out of residence’ after the supplementary examination period. Students could apply to stay on in residences from the end of the supplementary examinations through O-week until term began.  Students did not lose their place in residence as a result of late results, these places were held, provided students had committed to residence, until results were released and students could register.”


3. THE OPPIDAN BUS SYSTEM

Students demanded that the oppidan bus run on a permanent basis, as well as it operating during lunch hour so that students living in the township could go back home to have lunch. 

The university responded: The Oppidan Bus Service is operating permanently and this is run by the Oppidan Union. During the week the Oppidan Bus operates from the library, on the hour between 5-11pm Monday to Thursday and 5-9pm on Friday. This bus will run Saturday and Sunday at the following hours: 12pm, 4pm, 9pm. Given that the lunch period may be very short for a student who has a lecture that ends at 13:05 and a practical that begins at 14:00, bringing a packed sandwich or booking lunch in the Oppidan dining hall, that provides meals for R29.60 per meal as in the residences, are much more feasible options.


4. POLICE PRESENCE ON CAMPUS

Students complained about police cars and vans moving around campus. 

The university responded by saying that it did not ask for a police presence on campus: “The University has not requested Police presence on the University Campus. However, Lucas Avenue and Prince Alfred Street are public roads that have open access. There could be a number of reasons that SAPS vehicles are seen on campus or need to come onto campus, for example but not limited to, theft on campus which requires fingerprints are taken, we have a warden on campus who is a Police Officer by day, we also have students whose parents are in the SAPS and who drive SAPS vehicles onto campus.”


5. THE SRC CONSTITUTION

Following the recent reshuffle of the SRC after the departure of two members, students have called for the SRC’s constitution to be amended, specifically when it comes to election of new councillors.  Students at the meeting last night also called for the current SRC to be resolved and for SRC advisor Eric Ofei to be removed from his post.

The university responded by highlighting parts of the SRC Constitution that deal with changing the constitution itself, and the procedures that need to be followed.  

CHAPTER 8 CONSTITUTIONAL MATTERS

Article 8.1. Amendments
8.1.1. Any proposed amendment to this Constitution must be discussed and recommended for
approval by two-thirds of the Student Forum.
8.1.2. Once an amendment has been recommended for approval, it shall be publicized to the
Student Body who may submit comments to the Student Forum regarding the proposed
amendment. 
8.1.3. The Student Forum shall then discuss the proposed amendment in light of the comments
received and recommend a final proposed amendment.
8.1.4. The final proposed amendment shall then be brought before the Senate and Council by the
SRC for approval.

Article 8.2. Ratification
8.2.1. Having been approved by two-thirds of the votes cast by the Student Forum, and
recommended for approval by the SRC and accepted by Senate and Council, this constitution and
all legislation properly enacted there under, shall become effective immediately and shall
supersede all provisions of Student Government.

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