Q & A with Shaeera Kalla

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Deputy President of the Wits’ Student Representative Council Shaeera Kalla. Photo: Provided

The Wits SRC has made national headlines with its “One Million One  Month” campaign to raise R1-million for students in need of funding. They’re quickly approaching their goal with R780 000 pledged. We spoke to SRC deputy president Shaeera Kalla.

How is the campaign going ?

This evening we received R100 000 by an organisation that prefers to be anonymous for now. The campaign has really taken off very well, we are however running against time so it is stressful but at the same time rewarding to see how much it means to students and how eager everyone is to get involved.

How is raising the money different to protesting?

Protesting gets you the attention you need to draw people to a certain issue and to make them think about it in a critical, raw and real way. There is ample benefit in protest action and we as South Africans know this better than any other people. There comes a point, however, where one needs to be practical enough to understand that in certain circumstances protest action alone will not have the relevant effect.

What are the challenges the campaign is currently facing?

The campaign’s main challenge is that we now need to look at a fair criteria through which we allocate the funds that were raised because a R1-million is extremely small and will never cover all 2 419 students …  It is good to know we can raise money but at the same time a crisis this size needs government intervention.

How are you going to split the R1-million to student who need it, what criteria are you going to use?

We are awaiting the official university Financial Aid and Scholarships Office reports which detail how many students are affected … We need these reports urgently before we can process any funding or finalize a method of processing the money. These students are not charity cases they are deserving recipients of financial aid.

The R1-million will not cover all the students, what plans do you have for those who will not be covered?

We will be compiling a report on the experiences of students who were on NSFAS. I’m not sure how we are going to solve this but again, it is a crisis, we are students who are responding to it … We call upon Wits University, NSFAS and the Department of Higher Education to resolve this crisis so that our students can complete their studies, and for some at least, begin their university careers.