SRC treasurer Sandile Ngwenya prepares to attack, while Vice Chancellor Adam Habib readies his defence
THE VICE Chancellor’s Office and the SRC faced off at Wits University’s first futsal match on Tuesday evening. It was an equally matched struggle which saw an anticlimatic draw.
The SRC played a nine-all draw against Vice Chancellor Adam Habib’s selected team. Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research and Post Graduate Affairs Dr Zeblon Vilakazi impressed not only his teammates but also his opponents with his soccer skills. He alternated from goalkeeper, to midfielder and striker.
Sport Officer Dennis Tshabalala said Futsal “is a 5-a-side game played either indoor or outdoor. The game is played with a low bounce ball.” The duration of the match is a maximum 20 minutes per half.
At first glance, it appeared to be an ill-match, with Habib’s white haired, pot bellied team. The team not only surprised its audiences but their opponents, and indeed, themselves.
The older team was surprised by their own endurance, pace and skills. “Game turning out more even than I thought, guys from their 40’s and 50’s are keeping up,” said Vilakazi.The SRC made more substitutions than their older opponents. This was not an indication of their lack of fitness but a strategy to exhaust their opponents and give all their members an opportunity to play.
[pullquote align=”right”]“We had lots of fun, it’s just a pity we were faced with an opposition we had to take pity on,” SRC treasurer Sandile Ngwenya said. [/pullquote]
SRC Sports Council chairperson, Andrew Keightley-Smith said the launch was not only a way for the SRC to develop relations between themselves, senior management and sporting staff but also to make sport accessible to everyone.
“We wanted to show students futsal is not for people who play competitively but everyone, boys, girls and even staff members” said Keightley-Smith.
The futsal courts, located at West Campus Dig Field were built on donations from the National Lottery fund for over R1-million. Sport officer Dennis Tshabalala said the funds were used on futsal courts because of the variety sporting codes the futsal courts surface can cater for.
“The surface can be a design for other sporting codes; if you look at basketball court, you could do that. That surface you can literally use it for any other form of sport” said Tshabalala.
The courts are a way for people who are not necessarily a part of a sporting team to take part competitively in a fun sport which will be made accessible to everyone.
This was a way for students and the Wits community to keep active and promote a healthy lifestyle.
“Those courts are here simply because we want to grow the game on campus because there are those people who don’t necessarily want to play the normal 11-a-side and this will give them a nice platform to do so,” said Tshabalala
A tournament will officially start on the March 10 and anyone can start a team. Forms and further details can be accessed from Tshabalala at:
DISTRACTED: Learners from the Bidvest academy in class during their Isizulu lesson. Photo: Palesa Radebe
BIDVEST Wits training academy has been put on the back foot following questions about the academic performance of its students.
Wits Vuvuzela recently asked the training academy for information on how many of its students complete matric. In response, the training academy asked why Wits Vuvuzela was interested in their work.
“My worry is your article sounds little bit negative towards what we are doing,” said training academy head of development affairs Glen Salmon. Salmon could not provide statistics to tell Wits Vuvuzela how many of the academy’s students completed their studies.“It’s very difficult also within South Africa to cater for everyone, there are some boys who excel, who get fantastic marks, clever boys from privileged backgrounds.
“[pullquote align=”right”]The Cambridge syllabus requires students to think independently rather than the South African spoon-feeding system[/pullquote]
There are some boys from poorer backgrounds, with poorer schooling who struggle,” Salmon said.
Training academy headmaster Mike Crampton blamed the South African basic education system for his students’ struggle to perform academically. He said the students were not able to think “independently” without supervision. Crampton said the academy students were taught with the ‘Cambridge syllabus’ rather than the one used by the South African basic education system.
The Cambridge syllabus requires students to think independently rather than the South African spoon-feeding system,” said Crampton.
The Bidvest Wits training academy is a football-training centre with the objective to prepare young players to play professional football. The academy takes students from grade 11 to matric and follows the British Cambridge syllabus, which Crampton said is similar to university standard.
Salmon said the students come to the academy at different education levels “so it’s difficult to cater for everyone, that’s why the Cambridge syllabus is so positive in that way you can teach them on their level”.
Bidvest Wits Training Academy head coach Ashley Makhanya said the academy was set up around the soccer season. The students attend morning and afternoon training sessions, leaving only four hours in their schedule for schooling.
“The students are not chosen based on their academic credentials but more on the football skills, the academy is set up to offer support to their sporting career,” said Makhanya.
Makhanya said the biggest challenge the academy was facing is to keep the students focused on their academics.
“They need to take their school work seriously, not all of them make it to the PSL, only a small percentage makes it to the PSL,” Makhanya said. Makhanya said the academy spent a lot of funds to ensure the students did well in school providing them with food and housing in addition to an education.
A former scholar said the academy was set up similar to a private school and the syllabus was difficult. He said that most players focused more on the soccer rather than schoolwork.
The former student asked for anonymity because he feared speaking to the media would jeopardise his chances of making it to the PSL.
Mandla Maseko is part of the Axe Apollo Space Academy, he is the first Black South African to go to space on the Lynx Mark II shuttle in 2015.
SOUTH Africa’s first black astronaut-in-waiting, Mandla Maseko, hopes to be a Wits University student after he returns from space.
Maseko wants to register for a course in aeronautical engineering which he believes will bring him closer to becoming a mission specialist or pilot-in-charge at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
“It’s not just about getting the experience but getting it on paper. Wits is very accredited with this course, it excels more than any other university,” said Maseko.The “future astronaut” had to drop out from his civil engineering studies at Tshwane North College. He had only a few subjects to go when he had to put his studies on hold because of a lack of funding.
He is the only South African among a group of 23 young people from across the world that were selected to go to space on the Lynx Mark II Shuttle in 2015.
[pullquote align=”right”]”It’s not just about getting the experience but getting it on paper. Wits is very accredited with this course, it excels more than any other university,” [/pullquote]
The 25-year-old is part of the Axe Apollo Space Academy where he will be one of the 23 potential astronauts who will get to spend an hour in space on the Lynx Mark II shuttle in 2015.
“There are only two people per flight so it will be me as a future generation astronaut and the captain pilot,” he said
He is the only South African “future astronaut” among a group of 23 young people from across the world that will get to spend an hour in space
Maseko was unemployed when he entered a Metro FM competition where they were required to send a picture of themselves in the air, jumping off something.
“I chose to jump off a wall in the backyard. You know how we do it ko kasi [in the township] and a friend of mine took the picture,” he said. He made it into the finals. The last round of the radio competition involved answering a question about why he wanted to go to space.
“I answered by saying I wanted to defy the laws of gravity and be the first black South African in space,” said Maseko.
Thirty entrants were selected from 85 000 applicants for the first set of challenges in the Free State – and only three would go on to participate further in the United States.
Maseko and his two fellow South Africans faced numerous challenges at the Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, Florida.
From the 109 participants from around the world only 23 will be going to space, Mandla being one of the selected.
“I was surprised they called me unexpectedly, they called me second from a list of 23. Which means from the 23 people I was second best,” said a proud Maseko.
The challenges included skydiving, battling G-forces in a “vomit comet”, building and launching a rocket and conquering obstacle courses.
Maseko will take part in six to eight weeks of training before he launches in 2015 but until then he has been keeping fit by jogging in the morning and afternoons. He always has a limited diet to ensure he is fit and healthy for the launch.
A set date has not been decided yet but the launch is estimated for sometime in 2015.
Love is in the air, it’s Valentines’ Day. There are those out there who can’t stand the day with its cringe-worthy adverts, plastic roses, chocolates , big white and red teddy bears and then there are hopeless romantics who love everything about the day. #teamvuvu went out on campus to hear what Witsies thought of the Valentines’ Day.
So you got into university, now what? If you are like me, you are probably worried about everything else but passing the year and actually getting your degree.
I remember my first month when I got to university. I worried so much about insignificant things, I wonder how I even made it out with a degree. One of my biggest issues was my thick ghetto accent. I wasn’t worried about my first university essay that was due in four weeks, or the fact that I had my first psychology multiply choice quiz in the coming three weeks. Instead I was focused on wanting to sound like I had gone to a private school and use the word ‘like’ in every second sentence.
I remember the sick feeling I would get in my stomach every time we had to go around in large groups introducing ourselves. “Hi, my name is Palesa, I’m from Soweto and this year I’m going to be studying journalism, psychology, drama and anthropology.”
I had crammed that sentence so well and had tried to pronounce every word in the most convincing fake Model C accent I could manage.
I would worry that if I raised my hand in lectures I wouldn’t sound as smart as the kids that had attended Crawford, or whatever St-something they went to. I worried that my contribution to the discussion wouldn’t matter because I didn’t read Othello or Woza Albert in matric. How could I sound smart if I made reference to books like Maru?
Anthropology tutorials were the worst. The fact that I would stay up half the night to type a 1000-word tutorial essay was the least of my worries. What would really enrage me were the discussions we had during tutorials. Not only would I spend two days trying to understand a 40-page reading but it would be so evident that I had missed the humour and point of the reading during the discussions.
Through all of the anxiety, self-doubt and panic, you start to miss your old friends, high school teachers, the sweet sound of Sesotho or isiZulu in the school corridors. Back then you didn’t have to practice how you would ask a question to your teachers; if you didn’t know the word in English, you would say it in Sesotho and she would get it because she would be black as well.
When I finally got over the unhappy feelings and accepted my new environment and my not-so-polished accent, I finally realised that university is a place where diversity and individualism—not to mention ghetto accents—are accepted and appreciated. The trick is to not try and conform to the ‘norm’. It was only when my tutor would mark and return my essays that I realised how smart my ghetto self is. I would always get pleasantly surprised at her comments. It was not that I didn’t get or understand the reading, I just had a different perspective. The more I read and argued points from a different perspective, the smarter I sounded.
University is the one place where you learn that it’s okay to be yourself. The accent, clothes, and the ‘cool kids’ don’t matter. It’s a safe space to be yourself, to challenge yourself, surprise yourself and, most importantly, it’s a place to learn not just about the world, but yourself. It doesn’t matter whether you are from a rural school in Limpopo or a township school in Alexandria. Have the drive to always do your best and believe that your contribution matters. And one more thing, read ahead of the lectures to ask relevant questions. Those are the things that make you smart.
Puff and Pass: Wits Junction residents are using incense to disguise the smell of cigarettes and weed. Photo: Liesl Frankson
After receiving information that Wit Junction residents are irritated by the smell of incense in their corridors, Wits Vuvuzela investigated and found that students believe they have a drug problem more than a cultural intolerance to incense.
Neo Sekgobela, 3rd year politics, said the smell of incense is irritating but not overbearing, and is not reason enough to lay a formal complaint.
Pretty Mapaita, 4th year medicine, said she doesn’t mind incense as the students who burn it, do so in their rooms. Her issue is the students who smoke weed outside on the lawns. Her window faces the garden and when she opens her windows, the smell comes directly through.
“It’s annoying and disturbing. When you’re studying and open a window, you have the strong smell of weed. Weed happens often but incense once in a week or so.”
[pullquote align=”right”]“It’s annoying and disturbing. When you’re studying and open a window, you have the strong smell of weed. Weed happens often but incense once in a week or so.”[/pullquote]
Tawada Chisa, 2nd year BComm said he was first introduced to incense by his mother. She burns it around the house to chase away bad spirits. Chisa said the smell of incense is common on his floor.
“The majority of people in my corridor burn incense. The guy opposite my room is Indian so I get mine from him. “It’s like deodorant or oils or cologne.” Chisa said while incense can be used for its “soothing smell” and for cultural reasons, some students use it to mask the smell of cigarettes in their rooms.
Students are not allowed to smoke in their room, but the rule book doesn’t have any specific rules on burning incense, Chisa said.
Mcebo Olyate, chair of Wits Junction House Committee, said there haven’t been any formal complaints about the smell of incense but students do complain amongst each other in their corridors.
Olyate said Junction has some cases of people smoking in their rooms and few have been charged. He would not confirm what cases are being investigated and what was smoked but he said it would be difficult to stop the use of incense in residence rooms.
“People will say it’s their culture and religion. What we do is promote cultural tolerance.”
Rainbow coloured flags, bright orange t-shirts, and people dancing to Beyonce’s single ladies were part of the festivities that made this year’s Wits pride the biggest.
The event was a host of colourful flags, bright orange whistles and Witsies dressed in extravagant outfits for the event . The event started with a few words from the Deputy vice chancellor of finance and operations Tawana Kupe, who said he was impressed with this year’s turn out and chanted to the crowd “No fear, No hate, All love, Proud to be you” and the crowd replied with a loud “Proud to be me”
The parade was themed Being Me, which was a week of events dedicated to merge the diverse personalities, sexual orientations and gender identities at Wits. Events include a new t-shirt design competition, a drawing marathon; and a queer history tour.
Wits Pride programme manager Ella Kotze said this year’s theme aimed to make Wits a safe space for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, race, age, nationality, ability or class.
Kotze said Wits Pride will join hands with students and those supportive of LGBTIA issues to show their pride and also remember the struggle the LGBTIA community has faced in obtaining their rights.
[pullquote]We need to reclaim the space for everyone, we know there is homophobia on campus, and it’s one of the silences on this campus[/pullquote]
Kupe said “We need to reclaim the space for everyone, we know there is homophobia on campus, and it’s one of the silences on this campus.”
SRC secretary Tasneem Essop highlighted the lack of support the SRC has given to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and asexual (LGBTIA) on campus.
“We are behind pride, as an SRC we have not done much for pride”, she acknowledged that pride has come a long way and as the SRC they want to take the fight against inequality all over campus.
The march started 1 pm at the Library Lawns and proceeded past the Great Hall, down Yale Road across West Campus and back to the Library Lawns again.
Campus Health does not have a doctor on its staff, nor is its state of hygiene ideal, the sexual harassment report revealed.
Wits University commissioned an inquiry into the nature, scale and extent of the problem of sexual harassment on campus.
One of the findings in the report points out that there has been a vacant position for a medical doctor at Campus Health which has five staff members servicing 30 000 students and 2 000 Wits staff members.
According to the report, Campus Health is under- resourced and does not have enough staff to deal with sexual harassment cases.
The report criticised the physical conditions of Campus Health, located in the Matrix.
“There is no fresh air, the physical conditions are unhygenic, with common cases of flooding from the top floors,” read the report.
[pullquote align=”right”]”There is no fresh air, the physical conditions are unhygenic, with common cases of flooding from the top floors,” read the report. [/pullquote]
The location is also “not suitable” for the disabled.
The report revealed that Campus Health does not have its own vehicle and cannot transport sexual abuse complainants to the necessary points of assistance. Campus Control is responsible for transporting complainants to Milpark Hospital.
The findings in the report said Campus Control does not have any particular facilities for victims who need to be transported to
Victims of sexual abuse are required to wait in a general waiting area where there is foot traffic.
The university’s sexual harassment adviser, Maria Wanyane, said Campus Health staff are currently not permitted to handle any form of sexual harassment case, due to lack of resources.
Rape kits and evidence needs to be collected by specialised doctors, but Campus Health does not have such a doctor on call, Wanyane said
One of the contradictions the report picked up was that victims can bring a friend with them to file a complaint. However, they cannot accompany the complainant when they are transported to the hospital in a bakkie, which only seats two.
The report also revealed that Campus Control does not have enough officers to deal with the number of requests they receive for their escort service.
Adam Habib answering questions at the Town Hall meeting held on Education Campus yesterday. Photo Liesl Frankson
Vice chancellor Professor Adam Habib held his second town hall meeting at the education faculty as part of his strategy to engage with the Wits community following his installation.
Habib was requested to bring the meeting to education campus, following the large number of students that didn’t have an opportunity to ask their questions. “In future, I have suggested we have town hall meetings on East, Education & Medical campuses twice a year.” he said
Habib said as vice chancellor of a public university, he was comfortable being with being held accountable for his decisions. He urged students to “feel free” to pose any questions they may have at any time. The first on Habib’s agenda during the meeting was discussing the new sexual harassment regulations.
Habib apologised to every student and staff members who had been affected by the sexual harassment saga. He said the university tried to act quickly when they were informed about sexual misconduct. “I want to send a very strong message to this campus, sexual harassment will no longer be tolerated at Wits. It’s unacceptable that vulnerable women be preyed upon.”
[pullquote]I want to send a very strong message to this campus[/pullquote]
The university recently fired two academics after they were found guilty of sexually harassing students, and initiated a university-wide investigation into the scourge of sexual harassment. Habib said there are two cases of sexual harassment pending and once the investigation has concluded he will take the necessary actions.
In his address Habib said part of his strategic plans for the university is to ensure Wits becomes a more transparent institution. Habib said one of his biggest plans is to increase research output, through a number of things. Firstly he wants to increase the number of postgraduate students from 30% to 50% postgraduate students for the next year.
Habib plans to put more money into postgraduate scholarships, in the coming years, and also double the university’s existing cohort of postdoctoral fellows. “We are going to incentivise research, staff members will get an increase from R10 000 to R20 000 for qualified research” he added. Postgraduate enrolments boost the country’s research output, but local universities have battled to increase enrolment and graduation.
Habib said two main issues had troubled the school. “One of them is the issue of leadership. It’s been a challenge at multiple levels. The second has been the issue of autonomy. And we are going to address them”
by Palesa Radebe
THE SRC has called for a 24-hour health service on campus, following student complaints and demands for better health services.
At the moment Campus Health has four staff members servicing 30 000 students and 2 000 Wits staff members.
The biggest issue raised by students concerns its closing hours and the long waiting times to consult with nurses.
The campus clinic closes at 4.30pm and some students only finish their classes at 5pm.
SRC secretary Tasneem Essop said, as part of their action agenda, the SRC wanted the university to employ more nurses, increase working hours and have better resources.
[pullquote]”We want [to] increase resourcing, staffing, [and] two night nurses starting this year that will increase when the needs of the students go up,” [/pullquote]
“We want [to] increase resourcing, staffing, [and] two night nurses starting this year that will increase when the needs of the students go up,” Essop told the Wits Vuvuzela.
The SRC and Campus Health will approach Wits management jointly to ask for 24-hour health services. They will also ask management to increase staff within the division so they can remain open longer.
“If you increase your staff, you increase your working times,” said Essop. “Getting more staff will also get the lines to move faster, and less waiting time.”
Head of Campus Health, Sister Yvonne Matimba, is in favour of Campus Health remaining open 24 hours of the day. But she does not support the idea of nurses carrying medicine to different
residences at night.
“Nurses would easily become vulnerable at night, if they would have to walk around campus carrying a bag filled with medical supplies,” Matimba said.
Approached by Wits Vuvuzela, students said night nurses were needed on campus and that it would be valuable to have them around.
Boteng Maluke, 1st year Law, said: “Night nurses are not a bad idea. People need to be able to access nurses. I had a migraine and I didn’t know what to do. I just took pills but I needed medical attention.”
Amanda Nkhumeleni, 1st year BAcc, said she would like it if nurses were available for 24 hours. “If I get sick in the middle of the night, they call Campus Protection, and they take you to hospital which is far. It’s better to have a night nurse.”
The meeting with Wits management will be held in September and the SRC hopes to have night nurses available by the end of the year.
Palesa Radebe and Liesl Frankson
FOLLOWING recent complaints, the SRC Academic Office is conducting a survey to find out if students are happy with the way exams are conducted at Wits.
The exam survey has been circulated to students following the recent June exams. The main focus of the survey is to establish if students are happy with the current starting times for exams, as well as the way in which they receive their results.
The survey stems from student complaints about not having enough time to finish their exams because traffic congestion and unreliable public transport cause them to arrive.
Shafee Verachia of the SRC Academic Office said it was important for students to be in the right frame of mind when they write. Arriving at 8.45 for an 8.30 exam did not help.
“It’s been very difficult for our students to be here at 8.30. During the June exams quite a few were complaining, or rather, saying they only had 30 minutes to write a two hour exam.”
Peak hour traffic on Empire Road made it difficult to get exam venues on time, both for students who commuted and those who drove themselves, he said.
“Eight to 8.30 is usually peak of traffic. If you look at Braamfontein, you have your companies like Liberty and KPMG just across the road, so all these people are trying to get here at that time. It’s very difficult for our students to get here at 8.30.”
The SRC is not only focusing its survey on day students, but is also seeking the opinion of students in residences, on and off campus. “As the SRC, we recognise that we represent all students,” said Verachia.
To include all students, the SRC started conducting their surveys at residences. Last week they handed out surveys on the lawns and in tutorial venues. School councils have also agreed to distribute surveys at lecture venues.
One of the other important questions the survey asks is: “Are you satisfied with the availability of exam results at Wits University?” If students answer no, they need to elaborate on how they would prefer to get their results.
Bilal Cassim, 1st year Urban Planning, said: “The notice board system doesn’t work, because a lot of people come to the notice board and it becomes chaotic. Getting your marks can be an emotional experience …”
Other issues that have emerged from the survey include clocks not being visible in the venues and disruptive invigilators.
The SRC has received close to 2000 surveys, but they are hoping to reach 6000 to have an adequate representation of what students want. The results of the survey will be presented to management to let them know if they have been doing a good job or if changes need to be implemented.
Photo: Palesa Radebe
ART IN MOTION: A new art exhibit that incorporates cutting edge technologies likeWits Art Museum is on display at the Wits Art Museum. The artwork, by Nathaniel Stern and Tegan Bristow, makes use of visitors moving in front of the exhibit. Full-body interactions from the public participants make spoken word, sound, projected animation, text, drawing and video shift and change with movement. Viewers explore, experience, and practice making meaning through how they move and interact with the art. The exhibit continues until August 2 when the museum will be presenting their first event targeted at young adults, WAM AFTER HOURS. There will be music, a unique digital arts interaction.