‘Wapad’ wheels on the roll again

The editor of Wapad, the student paper of the North West University’s Potchefstroom campus is happy that the newspaper will soon be back in business.

But Kevin du Plessis, Wapad editor said: “We have many things to sort out in the coming weeks to protect Wapad’s independence for coming generations of student journalists.”

The paper’s journalists already had many discussions underway about the paper’s independence thanks to the support they received from their Communications lecturers.

Du Plessis said the social media response and its role with regard to the newspaper’s reinstatement was their “saviour”. “The word got out so quickly and it served as a great platform for discussion.”

[pullquote align=”right”]“the right of a student newspaper to appear without editorial interference was emphasised by campus management”[/pullquote]

Beeld newspaper reported on Wednesday that the campus’s marketing and communications department announced the newspaper would appear again on October 10.

Pukke spokesman Johan van Zyl said about R 40 000 of the advertising fees were collected. The outstanding debt would be settled by campus management to ensure that the next editorial team do not start their year in debt.

Van Zyl said management decided that Wapad could be published again because some of the money had been collected.

Last week media reported that the Pukke’s marketing and communication department told Du Plessis that neither a printed edition nor an online edition of Wapad would be allowed for the rest of the year, until almost R80 000 in outstanding advertising fees were collected.

Wits Vuvuzela spoke to Du Plessis who said the decision to ban the newspaper was a plan to control the newspaper’s content to ensure it upholds the university’s reputation and that it was a plan to control media distributed on campus.

Beeld reported that Van Zyl said the newspaper’s expenses must be sustained by advertising income and “the right of a student newspaper to appear without editorial interference was emphasised by campus management as well as the fact that any newspaper can appear with a sustainable income.”

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UCT blogger “exposed”

CORRECTION: The statements of Qamran Tabo were taken from a report compiled by Kieran Duggan, David Horscroft, and Ben Steenhuisen. In an email to Wits Vuvuzela Tabo claims that quotes attributed to her in the report were based on hearsay. Wits Vuvuzela would like to emphasise that it did not speak with Tabo directly and apologises if this was in any way implied in the article.

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A current University of Cape Town student has been exposed as the alleged administrator of the controversial UCT Exposed blog which published academic grades, private information and correspondence of UCT students.

Pabie Tabo, also known as Qamran Tabo, is thought to be the originator of the blog and facebook page. Earlier this year, Tabo was embroiled in controversy for an articke in the UCT student newspaper called ‘the most attractive race poll’.

A report detailing her alleged involvement in the blog was compiled by UCT students Kieran Duggan and David Horscroft, as well as former UCT Computer Science employee Ben Steenhuisen. They wrote that the blog “publically name[d] and shame[d] people based on their marks or dress sense, accused UCT members of racism, and sexually objectified other UCT students”. It caused emotional distress to several of the blog’s targets, one of whom talked of suicide.

The “honeypot”

Duggan, Horscroft and Steenhuisen investigated the site by contacting the site’s administrator, named as “John Smith”. They shared a link hosted on their own server, which promised “juicy information” if clicked on.

From this link, known as a trap or “honeypot”, they were able to determine the geographical position of the computer used by the administrator when “he” accessed the link. They traced it back to a computer in UCT’s Computer Sciences building. During the time the link was accessed, the computer was logged into the UCT profile of Qamran Tabo.

Tabo responded to the report by denying any association with the blog. She alleged that a third party accessed her UCT login profile to publish information. “I let someone use my PC in the lab on Friday. It was after a Maths test and I even have an alibi.”

The researchers who compiled the report said it would be “relatively easy for UCT investigators to confirm or deny whether or not it was Tabo who accessed her UCT profile from the computer lab in question by reviewing security camera footage”.

Earlier in the year Tabo conducted a poll with the stated purpose of discovering which race was most attractive to UCT students looking for love. In an article, called Is love colour-blind?, she claimed the poll found Caucasians to be most attractive to other races.

New Res complex for Witsies

A new residential complex for the University of the Witwatersrand will be opened in 2014. The new residence comes in light of the increase in the number of students at the university.

The number of residence students has increased by 100%,over the passed ten years, bringing the total to 5900 resident students.

Noswal Hall is situated in Stiemens street, opposite The Braamfontein Centre and Holy Trinity Catholic Church.

Noswal Hall is a self-catering student residence, providing accommodation for about 400 students and the main objective is to accommodate more senior students.

Mahube Mogashoa, third year law student applied for residency at Noswall Hall and said she is looking forward to the opening of the residence.

“I am really excited about the new residency, it’s like junction except it’s a bit cheaper and it’s in Braamfontein and it has great facilities especially fit for a senior student,” she said.

According to Nazime Randerra, acting head of residences the idea of a new student residence was supported by the Department of Higher Education and Senate to accommodate as many students as possible. The apartments consist of two-, three- and four single room units and are equipped with a bed and fridge.

The residency also has internet connectivity, a television room, computer lab, study room and kitchen area. The building was assessed by the Johannesburg City Council to ensure that it meets the health and safety standards and identify escape routes. Wits does not own the land, but has the option to buy the land in the future.

Wits excels at budget speeches

Wits has the highest number of candidates in the semi final round of the annual Nedbank and Old Mutual budget speech competition.

Witsies are in the lead with eleven candidates and the University of Cape Town and North West University respectively with six candidates each.

The competition is divided into two separate categories (undergraduate and postgraduate). The undergraduate category consists of five students and the postgraduate category which consists of six Witsies.

Undergraduates had to write a 2000 word essay on the causes of youth unemployment and offer solutions to the national crisis. Postgraduate students had to write a 3500 word essay about how the government can deal with the electricity cuts and shortages and the increase of electricity prices.

The essays are judged on academic merit and the final category winners are announced in February by the Minister of Finance.

The competition was first launched 42 years ago and gives economics students from different universities an opportunity to compete against each other for a cash prize of R30 000 in the undergraduate category and R150 000 in the postgraduate category.

“We are extremely proud of our students. I think having the most number of semi-finalists in the competition shows that our students worked hard and submitted a number of good essays,” said Janine Dingley organiser of the competition.

We guide students through the structure of their argument, formatting and referencing. We see this as a valuable writing experience. However, students have to research the topic on their own and formulate their own arguments. I think for most of our students, doing the initial research in class makes it easier for them to write the essay and enter the competition.

Once the finalists are announced, the school of economics and managements puts them in touch with former finalists to help them prepare for the final round of the competition.

Terry van Staden secured third position in 2012 and has secured third position in this years postgraduate category.

Witsies have done well in the budget speech competition over the last year three Witsies collectively won R95 000 for their essays.

Wits has produced 5 winners in the post graduate category since the beginning of the competition in 1972

Shaheen Seedat took first place in the postgraduate category in 2010 and Tshepo Machele claimed the undergraduate prize in 2008.

 

Enjoying food that has roots

SO DELISH: Students at the Postgraduate Office joined in for a feast of traditional Kenyan food.                                                        Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

SO DELISH: Students at the Postgraduate Office joined in for a feast of traditional Kenyan food.                                                                                                                                                                              Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

Kenyan-born PhD candidate Linet Imbosa finds it sad that so much food in South Africa is over-processed. “When you make your own food, you build a fellowship with that food and it nourishes you.”
Rather than celebrating Kenyan culture by visiting a restaurant, the developmental psychology specialist invited Wits Vuvuzela for a “cultural picnic” to celebrate Heritage Month.
September’s associations with heritage, culminating in the public holiday on the 24th, posed a dilemma for Vuvuzela reporters: would we look at South African heritages and cultures and risk adding to the truism that South Africans are self-involved?
Or should we look at non-South African cultures and risk the accusation of treating heritages outside our own as inherently foreign?

 

The dilemma resolved itself when we sat down to a lunch of traditional Kenyan foods or kienjeli, with Imbosa and some for her colleagues from various parts of Africa.
She had prepared it the night before between her punishing academic schedule.

Computer

What a feast

The meal consisted of a number of dishes that were made of slow-cooked vegetables and natural food stuffs prepared with little or no oil.
“Every homestead in Kenya has a kitchen garden,” Imbosa said as she pointed us to sukumawiki, which translates to “stretch the week” in English – a mixed vegetable dish of shredded carrots, onions, tomatoes and lentils.
She explained that the name referred to the fact that meat was a luxury, so this cheaper vegetable dish could be enjoyed throughout the week.
[pullquote align=”right”]“When I first came to Johannesburg and my sister, who was hosting me, lived in a flat, she would grow herbs in buckets on her window sills.”[/pullquote] Throughout the meal and the conversation she referred again and again to the close relationship she felt to growing, preparing and slowly enjoying her food.

 

 

MY PLEASURE: Linet Imbosa enjoys the art of food Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

MY PLEASURE: Linet Imbosa enjoys the art of food.                                                                                                                               Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

 

“I grew up cooking, I was always with my mother and my grandmother and you learn the art of growing and harvesting food.” She explained this feeling of being “in fellowship” with your food as “almost metaphysical”.
Imbosa said the traditional food she shared with us reminded her of home, which is why she continued to go to places like Yeoville to source ingredients such as cassava and doga (fish fingerlings) and chapatti.

Perhaps finding the common ground was the point of the cultural experiment.

OPINION: We the disabled, the invisible

THE ISSUE of disabilities has always been a sore point for the university and, barring a few extraordinary individuals, it has been treated with reluctance and a measure of reservation.
Everybody in management knows how to talk the talk to impress university stakeholders and guests. But the reality is much different.
 
When having a conversation with the head of the disability unit, Dr Anlia Pretorious, one learns quickly that she undoubtedly has the credentials and the profile of a person who understands and has worked alongside people living with disabilities. That is commendable, but one cannot help but ask whether she uses these qualities to serve the community of differently abled persons?
 
To date, apart from a few technological upgrades and renovations at the main disability unit offices, there is yet to be tangible changes for the differently abled.
Students are still left to the mercy of a system that is ignorant to their needs. Apart from a few intermittent awareness campaigns, that are known to be hamstrung by bureaucracy, not much has gone towards achieving solutions except for the odd individual case.
 
It is safe to state that Dr Pretorious is not being given the space to operate to the best of her ability.
The disability unit needs a strong, reliable person as a head who will understand the nature and the social position of the student that comes to its doors needing assistance.
 
These are mostly previously disadvantaged youths aspiring to obtain a worthy qualification so that they can lead better lives.
 
Does anybody hear us, or see us, or is willing to ‘walk’ with us?
 
Emzalaga

OPINION: The great Alex Ferguson rule

Jamie Might

by Jamie Mighti

SOUTH Africa is a strange country, where the level of sports excellence is hilariously inconsistent. On the one hand, Bafana Bafana keep losing games and can only dream of the World Cup, while in contrast the cricket and rugby teams rank amongst the best in the world.

The answer can be found in Sir Alex Ferguson, the greatest coach of all time. The answer to how to create a Wits that ranks in the top 100 universities lies in the Alex Ferguson rule.
When Alex Ferguson got to Manchester United in 1987, he made it very clear that his primary concern would be youth development, that is how he could keep producing the likes of David Beckham and Ryan Giggs. He focused not only on their technical abilities but also on their character. He took boys and made them leaders. Ferguson understood that he had to be in control of the player production if he wanted to win multiple titles, and we all know how that story ends.

The latest QS global university rankings place Wits at 313th overall worldwide, that’s a jump of over 50 places for us in the space of one year. This in and of itself is a considerable. However, we are not yet on track to become a university entrenched in the top 100 unless we start prioritising the one group of students who matter the most. That group of students who are treated like the scum of the university: our first years.

This university bleeds first years. Too many get lost even before they hit the halfway mark and our dropout rate is over 50% for most faculties at the first year level. The dropout rate for courses like actuarial science is over 60%. Last year alone, the percentage of students who could not proceed to the next year of study was 51%.

The number of students who had to go home was over 2 700 according to the Wits annual report. Not proceeding to the next year of study is a loss of two major resources, namely time and money.
Academic exclusion is worse, considering that for those of us from harsh backgrounds being in university is the only chance some of us have to change our lives. It is a major tragedy to find out that most of the students who have to repeat a year or go home are predominantly of the first year variety. Wits, as a university, is breaking the Alex Ferguson rule.

If this university truly wants to be in the top 100 then we have to follow the legendary coach’s lead. We speak of having more postgraduates, more research and more papers published. However, if we are serious about seeing more of these, then we have to look where the greatest coach of all time looked. We have to look at our most important source of brilliance, we have to look at our first years.

OPINION: Politics does matter

Pearl_1by Pearl Pillay

OVER THE past few weeks, the hills of Wits have come alive with the sound of democracy.

“Elections” seems to be the buzzword on campus of late. Whether it be clubs and societies, house committees or (my personal favourite) SRC elections, students have come out in their numbers to honour the democratic process and make their voices heard.

We’ve heard, quite frequently, that Wits is “too political”. This rhetoric has seemed to become routine, particularly during the period of SRC elections, and is used by “non-political” groups who seek to gain favour from the apathetic or uninvolved.

At the outset, it must be said that we live in a political world. The very fabric of our lives is governed by political processes. To deny this would be not just naïve but foolish. We must also remember that Wits does not exist in isolation from society. On the contrary, Wits is a microcosm of the society in which we live. It is logical that our ideologies, our actions and the way in which we produce knowledge must reflect this society.

We boast a strong political history as an institution. Coupled with this, comes the notion that we are the most politically active student body in the country. This is something we should be proud of! In fact, it’s something we must allow to thrive, lest we get swallowed up into the abyss that is political ignorance.

You see, we are not just Witsies, we are also citizens of this country and the world. If we leave this university with nothing but a degree, we have failed dismally. We must start thinking, very carefully, about the kind of citizen we nurture at this institution. The culture of complaining is rife in South Africa and is grown by shunning the politics of this country. Discourse and active citizenry are political in nature, and must be given a space to thrive.

When we disconnect ourselves from the political process, we allow important decisions to be taken in our names, but without our input. I, for one, don’t want to live in that kind of world.

I’m not asking that everyone goes and signs up for a political party and parades around campus in berets. But I am asking, pleading, that we all play an active role in shaping the politics of our country. It is in spaces such as the university where political transformation happens and history will judge us, harshly, for our failure to contribute to the writing of it.
In short, whether or not you are interested in politics, politics is interested in you!

LETTER TO VUVU: Wits has Pride

I AM writing with regard to the Wits Vuvuzela article entitled “No Pride at Wits.” Being a critical discourse analyst, I am concerned with the way in which the university student newspaper has reported on Wits Pride – or better failed to do so. To begin with, the first two sentences that open the article are based on factual errors:

1) “Empty lecture rooms.”
The two panel sessions had an attendance of 10-12 people each. Small numbers one might say. Not so much so if compared with the attendance to the lectures delivered by some distinguished scholars who have recently visited Wits University. The more crucial question is whether such small numbers are not so much the result of “lack of visible advertising around campus”, as Wits Vuvuzela journalists put it, but are the effect of homophobia on campus and the unwillingness/shame on the part of many students to publicly engage with sexuality issues.

2) With regard to “lack of visible advertising around campus”, it was difficult to avoid seeing all the posters that Wits Transformation Office hung on all possible notice boards on campus. But of course one’s sight is very selective. Hence the journalists’ failure to see these posters.

3) “No information tent.” There has been an information desk that has “moved” every day offering information about Pride and sexual health on different campuses.
I am also worried by the reference to  queer individuals as “rainbow-wearing”. Whilst this could be read metaphorically, it could also be taken as an example of “othering”, a form of stereotyping that positions sexual minorities as necessarily visibly “different” from their majority counterpart. Finally, titling the article “No pride at Wits” subtly disguises the idea that the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, intersex and asexual community does not care
about Pride.

Whilst I want to praise Wits Vuvuzela journalists for unveiling sexual harassment at Wits, I am less impressed by the way in which sexual minority issues have been reported on. Blaming the Transformation Office for poor marketing strategies is simply a lie that fails to recognise the success of this year’s Pride. In my view, this article is an example of superficial journalistic practice that is more keen to point fingers at culprits than to offer a balanced reading of social issues.

I am not saying that Wits Pride should not be criticised. I am saying that, if a critique is raised, it should be based on solid grounds as well as address the complexity of the issue of non-normative sexuality at Wits.

I hope that the university management will not be influenced by such reporting.

Wits Pride and the Safe Zone campaign should be given continued support, not least because we are still far from having a “safe campus” where every individual, irrespective of gender and sexuality, can walk without fear of being harassed.

Your sincerely,
Prof. Tommaso M. Milani
Associate Professor and Head of Department – Linguistics School of Literature, Language and Media

 

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Wits Vuvuzela reponds: 

Thank you for the kind words regarding our coverage of sexual harassment on campus.
Wits Vuvuzela reporters saw only about six people in the lecture rooms for Wits Pride events. But whether it was six or 12, you are correct in that the lecture halls were not “empty” as we described. Wits Vuvuzela apologises for the error.
While our reporters did see some of the flyers, we do not agree that – as an advertising campaign – they were very prominent. Our reporters who worked on this article also tried – and failed – to find the information tent. One of our team members, who was not working on the article, did happen to find the tent during the week but did not initially know it was connected to Wits Pride due to a lack of branding.

EFF triggers PYA exodus

SOME SRC members, who are also ANC Youth League (ANCYL) members, have dropped their black, green and gold T-shirts in favour of the red berets of Julius Malema’s new party.

SRC vice president internal, Tokelo Nhlapo, joined the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on Tuesday after what he says was “a long time of introspection” and consultations with people he looks up to and admires.

“Joining the EFF is like jumping from a hot pot into a frying pan, but the EFF questions how the hell are white people living comfortably in this country while their people are suffering.”

In an article published in Wits Vuvuzela on July 19, Nhlapo said there was no difference between the ANCYL and the EFF, but accused the EFF executive of being “dodgy characters”.

“Julius was expelled from the ANCYL. Floyd [Shivambu] was expelled from the ANCYL,” he said at the time

NOT EFF’ing AROUND: Wits EFF chairperson Vuyani Pambo campaigning at Barnato Hall. He tells potential members “we should not fear to exist from white people”.  Photo: Thuletho Zwane

NOT EFF’ing AROUND: Wits EFF chairperson Vuyani Pambo campaigning at Barnato Hall. He tells potential members “we should not fear to exist from white people”. Photo: Thuletho Zwane

Nhlapo said he decided to join the EFF because the ANC betrayed the Freedom Charter and legitimised the poverty of black people while protecting white wealth.

Nhlapo’s sudden jump from the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), which includes the Wits ANCYL, to an opposition party comes at a time when the EFF is starting a branch on campus.

Wits EFF chairperson Vuyani Pambo, said he had been elected to help launch the EFF branch on campus. “We are launching this month but the date hasn’t been set yet.”

PYA and South African Students Congress (Sasco) member Mbe Mbhele has also jumped ship and was seen campaigning for the EFF at Barnato residence on Tuesday night. “I am a member of Sasco but I campaign for the revolution,” Mbhele said.

Wits ANCYL secretary Yamkela Fanini said “such individuals [PYA members who are also EFF members] are termed as agents. But bazoba strong wethu those people [the EFF].”

Pambo said EFF had aligned itself with the Workers’ Solidarity Committee (WSC) and claimed most of workers had joined the EFF. “By Thursday we will have 200 members.”

Pambo said Wits EFF was in sensitive deliberations with members of the PYA, Young Communist League and Sasco but could not give their names because these individuals “hold positions in the SRC” and other ANC-aligned movements.

 

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Tri-continental film festival comes to Wits

This is the first year that Wits hosted the People to People International Documentary and Tri-continental film festival on its premises.

The People to People International Documentary Conference was held at the Wits theatre from last Sunday and ended this Wednesday.

Jeppe on a Friday Director Arya Lalloo talks to Wits Vuvuzela about the film festival

Jeppe on a Friday Director Arya Lalloo talks to Wits Vuvuzela about the film festival

People to People

In 2007, People to People  was inaugurated by the Encounters and Tri-continental film festivals, the  two leading documentary festivals in the country as they believed the number of films about Africa or the developing world  being made by filmmakers from these communities, were not enough.

Conference organiser and Director of the highly acclaimed independent film Jeppe on a Friday, Arya Lalloo said the conference was about filmmakers coming together to share the tensions involved in documentary production.

“Issues around representation, access and ethics are some of the topics that are discussed at People to People. We are dealing with very resource deprived filmmaking communities, it is about building collegial bonds between the continent’s documentary filmmakers,” Lalloo said.

The conference was created as a space to develop the voices with a broader south focus but particularly with a Pan African focus.

Advice for Witsies and aspirant documentary film makers

Lalloo commented that student apathy upsets her, “you should be using time best time in your life to define yourself to expose yourself”.

Lalloo said that there are many options available for students.

“It’s not going to suddenly come to you in a dream. It starts with understanding that there are options available to you.”