By Sibulele Mabusela
In response to the recent student uproar over the timetable change and the resulting miscommunication between the SRC and the student body, the SRC held a press conference last week Thursday to address these concerns.
The conference was held following complaints about the outcome of a recent poll asking students whether or not they wanted exams on Saturdays. The results were apparently disregarded, resulting in the loss of SWOT Week before the June exams.
In his opening statement at the conference, SRC president Matthieu Maralack expressed his disappointment that students would believe the SRC would go out of their way to inconvenience them. “We wouldn’t make a decision like this without taking students into consideration,” he said, explaining how the academic administration of the University had approached them halfway during the first term about removing Saturday exams. This was put to the student body for the vote. Out of the 5 000 undergraduates, only 1 750 voted. There were 817 votes for Saturday exams and 810 against, with 135 voting either way. The final outcome proved to be inconclusive, because this voting segment did not represent enough of the student body.
Consequently, two days were taken out of SWOT Week and added to the exam timetable, on which exams are organised into a blocking system. According to the Registrar, Dr Stephen Fourie, this was to allow for the best possible timetable layout for the students.
Maralack feels that the SRC acted in the interest of the students. He explained the voting process and confirmed that the SRC had no control over the final decision regarding the current timetable.
“We are not a bunch of ogres trying to inconvenience students,” said Fourie when explaining exactly how the decision was made. He said that in constructing a timetable, the administration is faced with 3 000 subject combinations and that they had attempted to make it as convenient as possible for students so that their examinations could run as smoothly as possible.
The SRC admitted to a lack of communication with students regarding the decision and apologised. “In terms of the event, what has happened has happened. We can’t change it; we can only move forward,” said Maralack.