‘No degree, no entry’ say postgrad festival organisers

Celebrating the new graduates and enhancing the postgraduate social life on campus through what organisers hope will become an annual fixture.  

The postgraduate association (PGA) at Wits university have an upcoming festival on Saturday, April 13, 2024, at Sturrock Park West Campus from 14:00 till 02:00 called ‘No degree, no entry’ as a way of celebrating with newly graduates.  

The Chairperson of the PGA, Okuhle Mafrika, said while Wits University’s vision for 2022/23 is postgraduate friendly and research intensive, postgraduate students do not feel that sense of inclusivity.  

Mafrika claimed that Wits focuses on undergraduate students, for instance hosting a Freshers party to welcome them but nothing for postgraduate students.  

The PGA has taken it upon themselves to instil a sense of belonging and celebrate postgraduate students.  

‘No degree, no entry’ is a festival aimed at attracting more postgraduates to the PGA community and motivate undergraduate students.  

“The No degree, no entry festival will hopefully be an annual event depending on its success,” he said.

There have been challenges such as securing sponsors and getting approval from the university since this is a new concept.  

Mafrika said “there are about 12 000 postgraduates and 24 000 undergraduates” so as the PGA they had to “sell the idea to students and to funders” first.  They have chosen to do this with a star studded line-up students will find difficult to resist.

The money generated is for fundraising purposes to assist postgraduate students with accommodation fees, as they hardly qualify for the hardship fund, said Mafrika. The hardship fund is mainly allocated for indebted undergraduate students.  

Tickets are on sale for R150 for Wits graduates and R200 for graduates from other universities and Wits undergraduates. Performances by Master KG, Mòrda, Elaine, Langa Mavuso, Kelvin Momo, Shakes and Les, Leemkrazy and many more are to be expected. 

The dean of students, Jerome September, said, “There have been initiatives that sought to cater for postgraduate students such as the postgraduate orientation programme and the book club run by the division of student affairs.” Wits is constantly reviewing these and looking at new and further ways to support and create a positive postgraduate student experience.  

Is Wits doing enough to keep us safe?

“At the moment, we are pushing crime further and further away from the university,” claims Gary Kruser, Director of Campus Protection Services.

After the recent Braamfontein shooting, where two students were caught in the crossfire, Wits Campus Protection Services (CPS) has enhanced security measures in the area. 

Kruser said, “We use what we call underground people who are not wearing uniform. We will never give details on the increased number of security [measures] because it gives away our advantage,” he said.  

Part of the deployment of security guards, CPS works jointly with South African Police Services (SAPS), Metro Police and stakeholders such as Bad Boyz Security, private security which covers Wits’ Braamfontein and Parktown campuses. 

Slindile Mazibuko, from the Wits Service Department, says she feels safe because of CPS. “They are always on their guard station. I say this because I’m using public transport to come to work so always when I get to the entrance, I find a security guard welcoming me well,” she said.

Bangelihle Mudau, a second-year student says, “I don’t really think there has been an increase in security services specifically at the gates where biometrics are needed to enter or exit. There are no security guards present at times to safeguard us and check who is entering the campus. As I am standing here, I am afraid to wait for my bus outside the premises because I have my laptop in my bag, and it is risky.”

A Campus Protection Service campaign was recently held on campus to arm students with information about what security services are at their disposal. Photo: Sanele Sithetho

CPS is implementing ongoing crime prevention campaigns by going to residences and faculties to create awareness. Additionally, CPS is forming a structure to open a mobile service centre in the next couple of months, so more incidents of crime can be recorded and responded to.

The CPS is urging students to download the mySOS app on the Google Play Store or App Store.  The mySOS app has a response time of three to five minutes after you have pressed the panic button, and it can help get one out of danger once a response team is activated via the 24 hour CPS operation centre.