Two SRC members in the past weeks have resorted to sleeping in the council offices because of outstanding study fees and lack of accommodation.
President of the SRC Sibulele Mgudlwa confirmed that two members had been living in the offices since the end of O-week until last week.
Five SRC members, himself included, had trouble with accommodation and registering for study courses.
Mgudlwa said that varying reasons, such as personal and financial troubles, have led to the SRC members’ predicament.
The SRC president himself faced problems with registering for courses and finding accommodation. Mgudlwa confirmed that the Dean of Students Prem Coopoo and a registrar partially assisted him with his study fees and registration.
Mgudlwa said the lack of a place to stay, proper sleep and the right kind of food affect the SRC’s work and studies. “You are not on your optimum levels of efficiency,” he said.
Dean of Students Prem Coopoo confirmed that certain students approach her office for financial support. Coopoo explained that they have sourced funds for students who are “needy and academically sound”. She confirmed that she assisted the SRC president, “in his capacity as a student and not because he is a student leader- as I do for any other student.”
Mgudlwa said that the university does not provide funds to assist students with their finances and accommodation. Students are dependent on study loans from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme of South Africa (NSFAS) and bank loans.
“You really are alone,” he said.
According to Mgudlwa, the problems experienced by the SRC concerned a greater issue.
“This is indicative of a larger problem in that the university does not have a fund to assist students,” he said.
SRC international student affairs officer Pearl Pillay said she had only received confirmation of her financial aid last week and could only register then. She was able to find accommodation, but still has to source funds for it.
Mgudlwa said that SRC members must be afforded the opportunity to be assisted when need be.
“We are not asking for special treatment but because of the service given to university students it [the help] will be appreciated,” Mgudlwa said.
The SRC has a humanitarian fund, which assists students with financial and other needs, but the SRC members exclude themselves from this fund.
“As a principle we cannot benefit,” Mgudlwa said.