New Dean of Students

STUDENT AFFAIRS: Dr Pamela Dube discusses the changes in store for Students at Wits.

The new Dean of Students, Dr Pamela Dube would like the student affairs office to become “the place to go” for all student and academic issues.

She spoke with Wits Vuvuzela to discuss her new position and her aspirations for the future of Wits Student Affairs.

Dube said her priorities were solely “focused on student issues” and her aspirations for student affairs “are in alignment with the Vice Chancellors visions for transformation of 2022. I hope by 2022 students will be the centre of all decisions made at the University.”

The student affairs sector of Wits was originally part of Senate, but was later moved to its own office and finally to the operations section of the university in Senate House.

Asked about this apparent downgrading, Dube was shocked.  She said she would do everything in her power to change this. “I want to professionalise this department. I want us to go beyond babysitting students.”

Dube said her plan was to elevate the student affairs office and to make it a place where “all students from undergrad to beyond post-grad are able come to us with problems and moreover professional advice”.

She encouraged students to approach them and use the facilities on offer, such as Campus Health, CCDU and the like. “We want students to trust us. We want to be visible and market ourselves to all students as a full package.”

Dube is part of the university-wide initiative to move away from race and gender as central issues among students. She wants student affairs also to contribute and support the academic side of the university. She plans to encourage diversity and ethics in teaching and among students.

 “I also want to help students from different backgrounds to relate to each other and work in partnership.”

Dube, who is originally from KwaMakutu Township in Kwazulu-Natal, said her parents taught her the “values of focusing on the bigger picture,” and it was these values she hoped to instil within all students during her time at Wits.

“Where there’s a will there’s a way. We are trying to prepare the students for the bigger world out there.”

Witsies help to feed fellow students

The Student  Affairs division at Senate House has started a drive to collect food and toiletries for students who are most in need of these items.

Ashina Sarawan, Projects Officer for Student Affairs said their mandate was to offer “social support” to students. This support  cannot be monetary but they do aim to meet some of their  immediate needs.

Some of the things students need support with are things like food, clothes and toiletries. There are a number of drives and campaigns that are run by the division and also through student initiatives through the Wits Volunteer Programme which supply the above-mentioned items for students.

At present a toiletry drive has been launched. The drive works on a donation basis whereby students and staff donate whatever toiletries they can and these are then distributed to students in need. The toiletry packs are gender specific, said Sarawan.

The food drive is a new project that the division started running towards the end of February. They are looking for small quantities of food and items like rice, beans, tinned food and maize meal.

DONATIONS: This is what has been donated thus far.  Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

DONATIONS: This is what has been donated thus far.
Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

When all the food is collected, the division will put together food packs. Sarawan said this block would be the collection phase of the groceries. During second block the groceries would be handed out.

To get access to some of the donated packs students need to go to the Student Affairs offices to explain their situation. It is a very transparent system that doesn’t discriminate against any student who comes forward.

“We understand that it is very hard for students to approach us, so we trust that no one would claim packs if they don’t need them,” stated Sarawan.