The official banning of political affiliations at the University of Free State and the formation of a new constitution has been met not only with a student protest, but a court order too.
Student at UFS and South African Students Congress (Sasco) member, Motsoahae Tom Thabane, has filed an application at the Bloemfontein High Court against the newly elected SRC of 2011/2012.
Professor Jonathan Jansen, the university’s vice chancellor, made this decision last year in August after a sports meeting between UFS and University of North West when matches were disrupted and eventually cancelled as a result of political campaigns taking place during the event.
As Vuvuzela reported in its August 26 edition, 60 protesters were arrested for causing chaos on campus and throwing slurs at Jansen. Jansen said his decision was “taken to curb racial conflict driven by political formations on campus”.
Since their start in office two weeks ago, the new SRC has had to deal with Thabane’s high court charges.
Rick Smith was in the 2010/2011 SRC and part of the team responsible for writing the new constitution which was adopted on June 3 this year.
He says that Thabane’s charges are based on a misconception (on Sasco’s part) about the role of politics on campus.
“They’re upset that ‘politics has been banned from campus’, which isn’t the case at all. Politics is welcomed on campus, they’re just not allowed to campaign in the SRC elections.
“This gives a much larger group of students the opportunity to run for SRC”.
Smith also said that since its implementation, it has improved the quality of student leadership, with individuals serving in respective portfolios “and not just members of a party being put forward to fill in the proportional seats in the SRC”.
He said that the new system required candidates to have maintained a minimum overall average of 60%, and must have served in a recognised UFS leadership position.
Jansen dedicated his column in The Times on September 15 to the incoming SRC. He said: “You were part of the celebrations when the UFS held its first truly non-racial elections in 2011, when black students voted for a white man and white students for a black woman”.