Campus clubs and societies are outraged over their “illegal” removal from their Matrix offices to west campus – and claim they were given only five days to do so.
Several societies have been told by the SRC they must move to the DJ Du Plessis building on west campus. The societies claim they were not consulted and are resisting the move.
Rabia Kamdar, chairperson of the Disability Awareness Movement said the matter was “not handled with sensitivity” and the SRC showed a “blatant disregard” for differently abled people. “The consultative process was limited to an sms and no formal communication was made with the clubs and societies.”
The Hellenic Society only heard of the proposed move when it was mentioned by the SRC receptionist, said president George Patrinos.
The War-gaming, Anime, Role-play and PC, and Card Gaming Society (Warp) lodged a complaint with the Student Development Leadership Unit (SDLU). “We were not contacted at all…We were basically told to move to DJ Du Plessis and that our room would be taken by [Silly] Buggers,” said club member Stephen Sriedman.
The SDLU told them the eviction was illegal and the society should wait for the SRC to act, he said. A meeting was called by the SDLU between “affected parties” and the Dean of Students.
However, the SRC boycotted the meeting, because they did not “recognise the SDLU as an authority in the matter”, according to Tokelo Nhlapo, SRC head of clubs and societies. He regarded the meeting as “undermining the SRC as a statutory body of the university” and said the SDLU was “more of a stumbling block than a support structure”.
Sriedman said the first Warp heard of the move was at a meeting on a Friday. They approached the SDLU on the Monday, but on Tuesday received an sms from Nhlapo telling them to move by the following day.
They did not recognise the sms as an official communication and ignored it. On the Tuesday, he said Nhlapo threatened to “cut off their locks”.
Asked about this claim, Nhlapo said he had asked Warp for a duplicate key, since the SRC needed a duplicate of all society keys, and Warp’s was the only one outstanding.
He said the societies were moved to DJ Du Plessis as part of the SRC’s plan to create more club activity on other campuses and a panel was convened to decide which societies should move.
“We have spaces on the other campuses and [societies] need to occupy those spaces. The process was a collective and consultative process with all affected clubs awarded the opportunity to object.”
Nhlapo said the allocation committee decided that Silly Buggers was to swap offices with Warp as the society was more active and had more members. The SRC had taken note of the objections made by the Disabled Students’ Society, since they had “genuine concerns” while Warp’s were “not sufficient”.
Kamdar acknowledged their complaint had been resolved after disabled students had demonstrated to the SRC their proposed new offices were not accessible.
Approached for comment, Dean of Students Prem Coopoo referred Vuvuzela to the SDLU. By the time of going to press, the SDLU had not commented on the issue.
Tokelo Nhlapo is a student journalist on Vuvuzela. Because of the conflict of interest created by his position on the SRC, he recused himself from all discussion of this story, and was interviewed in his capacity as a member of the SRC.