Education campus students still don’t have enough choice for food options, despite having raised the issue with Vice Chancellor Adam Habib at the Town Hall meeting in June last year.
During last year’s Town Hall meetings on Main campus and Education campus, students were able to raise their concerns with Habib in a public forum
Lack of food outlets
At the Education campus Town Hall, former ECS (Education School Council) vice president Njabulo Mkhize raised his concerns about the inadequate food options on the campus. Olives and Plates is the only food outlet available on Education campus. The students find the restaurant expensive.
Mkize told the VC that students could not afford to purchase food at the café because the prices were very high. His concern was that the students had absolutely no other option to get food other than Olives and Plates.
.[pullquote align=”right”]“He even said that having seen the quotes for Olives and Plates, he had decided to cut down on food expenses for staff functions,” [/pullquote]
At the Town Hall meeting Habib was said to have acknowledged this was a legitimate concern.“He even said that having seen the quotes for Olives and Plates, he had decided to cut down on food expenses for staff functions,”said Mkize
What the students have to say
Students on education canpus opt to bring packed lunches to campus as they feel the food from Olives and plates is too expensive.
Having served on the ESC for two years, Mkize said he was aware that there are students who could not afford to buy food from Olives and Plates.During lunch break, students grouped together at various spots at campus, most eating their packed lunches. Many also had polystyrene boxes of slap chips, the most affordable item on offer from Olives and Plates.
[pullquote]“You get a burger here for R22 and it doesn’t have chips, but on Main campus a meal is R25,” [/pullquote]
Two fourth year students, Zama Khumalo and Anna Lekata, sat outside Olives and Plates eating their lunch – a Butcher’s Grill meal that they had got from Main campus. “You get a burger here for R22 and it doesn’t have chips, but on Main campus a meal is R25,” said Khumalo.
Khumalo and Lekata had left at 11am to come to Main campus because they had no classes to attend. The two said they would have been late for classes in the afternoon had they not been able to leave early.
Ami Sonnenburg, 2nd year BEd, said she always brought lunch from home because she was Jewish, only ate kosher food and Olives and Plates did not provide that option. She added that she disliked buying food from Main campus,“The food at the matrix is disgusting and the matrix is filthy”.
A group of students studying a PGCE said that they had noticed a big difference in a availability of food variety since they left Main campus.“We don’t actually buy food, we just buy snacks,” said Daniella Regal. Mutshutshudzi Tshikule, secretary of the ESC, told Wits Vuvuzela that nothing had been done about most of the issues that were raised at the Town Hall forum.
Alongside the food issue, students had raised concerns about the high international upfront payment fees.
At least two female students have reported bad experiences during unsanctioned initiations at their residences during O-Week.
In one case, the victim said she was made uncomfortable by the “sexist” undertones during an encounter with students from a male residence.
“We’re not allowed to look any of the guys in the eye, but that defeats the whole point of orientation and getting to know each other,” said the first year, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of being singled out.
Although she feels victimized, the student said she still though initiation was important “but to some extent we have lost the point.” She said she was especially frightened by the incident because she comes from a conservative family.
The incident was reported to the Dean of Students Prem Coopoo.
“First year students are meant to be orientated to Wits, not initiated. They need to feel connected to Wits and cared for – not fearful of seniors,” Coopoo said.
Coopoo said students are encouraged to report initiations as outlined in the O-week guidebook.
Third year BEd student and JCE resident Hannah Makgopa said initiation “helps to build bonds among first years.”
She said as part of the JCE tradition, first years are given new nicknames that are written on “virginity tags” which they have to wear around their necks for the duration of O-Week. Makgopa said the nicknames are created by the seniors and are not meant to be malicious.
“When I think of my first year I wish I can do it again,” said Makgopa.
Not all O-week residence activities have gone down well with management: last year initiations were banned at Men’s Residence after some of its residents disrupted an inter-residence talent show while intoxicated. Many people also remarked at how “hardcore” and “militant” the Men’s Residence initiations were.
“Men’s Res was a bit too harsh, if [the first years] do one mistake its 10 pushups or until they say stop,” said Makgopa.
However, Men’s Res student Muzi Phungula said he felt pity for the first years that live at Men’s Residence because they will not be able to go through the “fun things” that he went through in his first year.
He said first years are usually scared at first because it’s a new environment and it can be a “dramatic experience” but initiation built bonds with a shared experience.
A former house committee member from Sunnyside, Memme Monyela, said Men’s Residence initiations were much more “hardcore” than any other residence. She said the first years at Men’s Res were made to run around the field half-naked and occasionally had to brush their teeth with water from the coy fish pond outside the John Moffat Building.
Monyela said there are routine things that are done for fun such as waking first years up at 5am for a run on the field.
“There were others who just didn’t want to participate, they would complain and say ‘We’re tired’” said Monyela. “Sometimes they would complain that running around the field with people watching was demeaning.”
A second year student from Sunnyside Lebohang Makgopa said her initiation “was harsh, but not as bad as other residences.” “We don’t have these rules like other residences…we are a house of royalty.”