A popular secretary in the Politics department will be forced into retirement at this end month over the protests of students.
Odwa Abraham, a former politics student, said he and other students, along with a lecturer, started a petition to protest the compulsory retirement of secretary Gillian Renshaw.
Renshaw is being forced into retirement because she has reached the mandatory departure age for administrative staff of 65.
Abraham, who is now postgraduate LLB student, said the organisers of the petition were told their demand would be reviewed. However, they were never informed of the outcome of the petition.
“Our issue is here our [petition] was disregarded, it was ignored” said Abraham. “How does the university deal with such issues. What happens in the case where we students want the person to stay?”
He added that according to his knowledge there were two petitions. One started by the students which was signed by over 90% of the third-year politics class, and another by the lecturers and other staff members of the department.
The head of the Politics department, Prof Daryl Glaser, said Renshaw could continue in her job if the university allowed it.
“She’d be able and willing to continue if retirement rules allowed. The petition attests to her popularity,” Glaser said.
He said that an effort was to try and keep Renshaw but this only secured a few extra months after which the university insisted she retire. Renshaw’s contract ends at the end of this month, no replacement has been hired yet.
Renshaw has been working for the Politics department since July 2009. She told Wits Vuvuzela that she was very flattered by the initiative.
She was not involved in organising the petition. However, she said that if the students were organising a petition, it must be done properly.
“If they were going to do it they must send it through the right channels,” Renshaw said.
She added that while the university has rules of retirement, she feels it should be an individual’s choice whether on not they want to stay on for another year.
Another former Politics student, Bheki Temba, said Renshaw does not only fulfil her administrative duties but supports the students academically and emotionally as well. She knows every student’s name from their first year. Temba said Renshaw even supported him when his grandfather passed away.
Abraham said Renshaw keeps the department going and would even advise students on which courses to take.
A posting for Renshaw’s job is advertised on Wits’ website with interviews for a replacement are already being set up.