Financial Aid thanks students

Financial Aid thanks students

The Wits financial aid and scholarships office held a prize giving to reward students who have signed their lease forms in time. A lucky draw with student names was used to select the winners of the voucher.

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The South Point and NSFAS team gathered quickly inside Senate House after the students name to pose for a picture. From the Left: Luthando Falakahla (From South Point), Khodani Ramukumba (winner), Zahraa Badrodin (winner), Nombini Nteyi (NSFAS) and Lehlohonolo Bhulane (winner). Photo: Anelisa Tuswa

Financial Aid Office Manager, Ennie Kubeka said that students don’t sign their lease forms on time and this creates a problem with them getting their allowance, registration fees and accommodation payment.

According to Kubeka, 3282 students were offered loans, but only 3017 came to sign.

“The 266 students that didn’t sign on time are worth R12 million,” she said.

One of the problems she raised is that students get funding somewhere else and this leads to them not signing their forms. “Now the problem with that is that we’ve got students that do qualify for the loans but we couldn’t give them anything because the funds were depleted.”

This Prize giving was to thank the 92 percent who have signed their lease forms on time and to motivate other students to do the same.

The winners were given South Point sponsored Pick n Pay vouchers valued at R1 000.

South Point Bursary Administrator, Luthando Falakahla told Wits Vuvuzela that “As South Point we thought we should contribute and make sure that the students are signing leases on time just to smooth up the progress and make sure that they get what they are actually looking for in funding.”

When asked about why they were giving students food vouchers, Falakahla said “we as South Point need to guide the students. If we give them food vouchers they will actually get food and you cannot study very well if you are hungry. So getting that voucher will actually help.”

The winners include first-year Biological Sciences student Lehlohonolo Bhulane, Accounting Sciences student, Khodani Ramukumba and first-year BA Law student, Zahraa Badrodin.

The winners expressed their excitement and joy on winning the vouchers. BA Law student, Zahraa Badrodin said “I feel very lucky because I don’t really win anything, so it’s my first time winning, so it’s quite cool. I was told to buy healthy things so I think I’m going to do that.”

Poo can save us!

REUSING WASTE WATER: Sewerage water can be purified to suit our daily water needs. Photo: Michelle Gumede

REUSING WASTE WATER: Sewerage water can be purified to suit our daily water needs. Photo: Michelle Gumede

Most people gag at the thought of consuming sewerage. But environmentalists are claiming that treating our sewerage water for human consumption could be the cheapest and most efficient way to counter the water scarcity in a semi arid country like South Africa.

Sewerage water can be treated and be reused for drinking and other water related activities of daily living. That was one of the pertinent messages conveyed at the first ever Living Planet Conference.

Hosted by the World Wide Fund of South Africa (WWF SA) on Thursday July 30, the conference focused on the energy crisis, the looming water shortage disaster and food security and agricultural sustainability.

A large chunk of the conference was themed, “Water doesn’t come from a tap”, and featured environmentalists discussing the various ways that water usage can be reduced, reused and recycled.

“Waste water is filled with water!” said Dhesigen Naidoo, CEO of the Water Research Commission.

Naidoo emphasized that sewerage water is an incredible resource. One that can be used over and over for various activities by using the Water Quality Index (WQI).

The Water Quality Index (WQI) helps to determine just how clean water needs to be to be suitable for various household and industrial functions. The process of developing a WQI involves determining the intended use of water. Whether it will be used for drinking, bathing or flushing waste down the toilet.

“We don’t need super clean water for all water related activities” said Naidoo.

Drinking water would need to be purified to the point where the physical elements such as sediment, odor and temperature are treated to reach the point where it is suitable for drinking. The chemical factors like the pH levels, dissolved oxygen level, and E.coli level would need to be determined to ensure that the water is safe to drink. If the water is not suitable for drinking then it can be used for other activities like doing the laundry, or washing the dishes.

Waste water treatment process reduces pathogenic bacteria and other disease causing organisms, nutrients that can cause unwanted algae, biodegradable organisms and suspended solids. The water is purified through micro filtration and reverse osmosis. The primary phase of water treatment removes suspended and floating materials from the sewerage water.

This is followed by a secondary treatment, that eliminates any other dissolved organisms and sludge that escaped the primary treatment, using biological activity to filter and breakdown organic matter. According to the World Bank Group, about  85% of the suspended solids and bio gradable organisms can be removed by a well running plant with secondary treatment. Using specific chemicals and equipment the water is treated in the tertiary phase. The water is also disinfected with chlorine to produce drinkable water.

This method of treating sewerage water for consumption has been implemented in Orange county, California following the drought they experienced in 2014. Not without any critique from the public. According to the New York Post, many people found it hard to get over the ‘yuck’ factor.

Neil Mcleod, a panelist at the Living Planet conference and head of sanitation and water in the eThekwini Municipality, argued the point that treating sewerage water for reuse is way cheaper than desalinating ocean water. “Sewerage is a source of nutrients” said Mcleod.

According to McLeod, Namibia has more water supply than South Africa but they are using treated sewerage water to conserve their water sources. ”

“If we are sufficiently innovative, it (waste water) can become energy positive.” said Naidoo.

 

 

Wits flags fly at half-mast for former vice chancellor 

Wits University’s flags will fly at half-mast for the next six days in honour of  former Vice Chancellor, Professor Robert (Bob) Charlton. Charlton passed away yesterday morning at the age of 86, after succumbing to a brief illness. He  first came to Wits as an undergraduate medical student in 1946 and was appointed as vice chancellor of the university 46 years later. In a statement released by Prof Adam Habib, current vice-chancellor, Charlton’s academic and professional journey as well as his personal characteristics were celebrated. 

The statement is reproduced in full below:

“Dear Colleagues

The Wits flag will fly at half-mast for the next six days to honour the memory of former Wits Vice-Chancellor, Professor Robert (Bob) Charlton who passed away this morning after a brief illness at the age of 86.

Professor Robert W Charlton’s long association with Wits began in 1946 when he registered as an undergraduate medical student. He was awarded the degree of MD in 1963 and appointed as Professor of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology in 1967. In 1975, Professor Charlton was elected as a Senate representative on the University Council while serving as Assistant Dean of the Medical School. In 1978, he was elected Dean and served in that capacity until his appointment as Deputy Vice-Chancellor in 1980. In February 1988, he was appointed Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Wits University and held office for two terms until 1997. Under his steadfast and principled leadership, the University was steered on an even course during challenging times in the late 1980s and 1990s.

During his career as an academic and university administrator he served on several local and national bodies. These include the Medicines Control Council, the South African Medical and Dental Council, the Johannesburg Hospital Board, the Coronation Nursing College Council, the Witwatersrand Technikon Council and the Johannesburg College of Education Council.

Professor Charlton served with dedication on the Board of Governors of the Wits Foundation. He was invited to be a Trustee in 1987 and was reappointed in 1997. He served voluntarily in this position until 2008.

He had a passion for education and a lifelong commitment to the University that continued in many formal and informalcapacities in recent years. He initiated and supported the Charlton Awards for Service Excellence for support staff, and was always present to hand out these coveted awards to exceptional staff. He regularly attended Wits events including Evolution Day in the Great Hall in June this year.

We acknowledge with gratitude the invaluable contribution that Professor Charlton made to Wits University. Wits has indeed lost one of its stalwarts today. His wife Margaret, also deeply involved in university life, passed away some years ago. Our deepest condolences are extended to Professor Charlton’s family, friends and former colleagues and students, and especially to his three daughters, Sarah, Julia and Diana, and his son, Robert, all of whom have close ties with Wits.

We wish you peace during this difficult period.

– Professor Adam Habib”.

OPINION: Blacks are not “jealous” of White privilege

OPINION: Blacks are not “jealous” of White privilege

This serves as a response to the privileged white girl Anlerie de Wet on her piece that appeared in the Wits Vuvuzela, on August 24, 2015. De Wet states that she was, “only bouncing around her father’s testicles” when the racist lunatics orchestrated the venomous system of colonialism in all its manifestations – internal, external, apartheid and structural mechanisms that served and continues to serve as restrictions for the black man to gain economic emancipation in his own land.

It is important to initially clarify the historic events because they shape the current material conditions that many black people are subjected to survive under.

De Wet might have ‘been bouncing in her father’s testicles’ when the separate developments were implemented by her forefathers, but she does not have to ignore the fact that her parents received quality education while many of our parents, as black people, were the initial recipients of inferior education that systematically shaped them to be slaves. It is therefore easy for De Wet’s parents to be promoted at work as she clearly stated in her piece.
While on the other hand, our black parents are coerced to be in the primary sector of economic activities, they work hard in the field, and in the assembly line to increase productivity.  Our parents are exploited and alienated from the benefits of their hard labour, they earn peanuts, while white monopoly capital advocates enjoy the surplus through profit obtained from the sweat of our parents.
Our parents are not slaves because they want to be. The workers that De Wet always sees on campus are not cleaning toilets because they want to but they sell their labour all the time, to put food in the table for their children. They are not stupid, most of them would have been doctors, lawyers, successful entrepreneurs and good educators today, but they cannot be that, because De Wet’s parents and many others who share the same pigmentation with her are pure beneficiaries of institutionalised racism.
I keep wondering if she ever noticed that there are no white cleaners on campus? Well, she seems to have the same mentality as the apartheid engineers for they believed that white people are blessed and black people are cursed. Maybe that is why she keeps emphasising that she is “blessed”; does it then mean that the black workers on campus are not blessed?
We are not jealous of white privilege. In fact, for many black poor students who have no place to sleep and often feed on food from dustbins at night, they do not care about white people who “reside in Sandton” and own “Iphones” per de Wet’s example of the wealth of white people.
But black students do care about academic excellence, striving to be employed and then to transform the material conditions at home.
De Wet is thinking about creating an environment that will make her white kids privileged like her, but we not even thinking about our future kids, because we have our families to care about and also our communities.
Her utterances are a pure indication that most of the white people are in tertiary institutions to create a better future for their kids, while the black poor majority have a bigger task to firstly combat poverty at home, in our societies and also create better conditions for our kids.
De Wet is not alone, there are many like her who are prepared to protect and enhance white monopoly capital using the phrases, “blessed” and “equal”. It cannot be that the All Mighty God blesses thieves.
I mean De Wet was too quick to say that she is blessed, and it is not a sin to be privileged, well the Ten Commandments put it clear that; “Thou shalt not steal” De Wet’s forefathers stole our land! Let them bring back our land then we can talk about blessings.
Bhekithemba Mbatha is a Postgraduate Law student who hails from Orlando, Soweto.
Wits defends marks release dates

Wits defends marks release dates

Wits University students receive their first semester results close to the start of the second semester. As a result, many complain that they go through unnecessary stress over their holidays waiting for marks to be released. The university says the long procedure is to the benefit of the students.

09_HomelessWits University prides itself in its complicated and lengthy marking procedure, but students complain about the long wait to receive marks.

First-year architecture student Siphokazi William, who received the majority of her marks last Friday, said it is stressful to wait so long for results. “I want to know if I passed and move on.”

William and her fellow classmates only received their mathematics marks on Tuesday,  July 21, a day after the start of the new semester. The posting of the results on a noticeboard went more than 10 days beyond the requirement of the university’s Senate Standing Order.

One of the reasons the marking process is so long is due to the external marking process used by Wits, according to the Dean of Humanities, Professor Ruksana Osman.

She explained that “50% of all course work of undergraduates and postgraduates must be externally marked”, in order to focus on students at risk sooner than later.

Another issue delaying results is the new system of online access to marks.

With the use of two systems to submit the results online, “interfacing” takes a lot of time, according to Head of Academic Information and Systems Unit, Maggie Maseka. “We had a few glitches here and there we picked-up and will fix, but 96% of students didn’t have a problem getting their marks.”

Wits Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Professor Andrew Crouch, said there were two faculties that asked for an extension delaying the release of marks. In one case there was a lecturer who did not submit their marks on time and who currently faces disciplinary action.

Generally the university staff believes there has been a great improvement to the marks system in the past couple of years.

“We have a fairly complex procedure to follow, but it is to the benefit of the students,” said Crouch.