Men’s Res positions stay empty

October 2, 2012 Leave a comment

Three Men’s Res house committee positions have remained unfilled since the resignation of its members earlier this semester.

On August 17 Wits Vuvuzela reported that the Men’s Res house committee members had renounced their positions because of the frustrations the committee faced with university management. They said they were also experiencing academic pressure as they were neglecting their studies to serve on the committee.

Chairperson of Men’s Res house committee, Sanele Nene, said they had planned to hold elections for the positions in two to three weeks but this was pointless because it was almost the end of the term and exams were also approaching.

Thulane Mtsweni, a postgraduate law student, said having an incomplete house committee had not made a difference because Men’s Res was without a house committee during its suspension earlier this year.

The entire Men’s Res house committee was evicted and suspended and charged with misconduct after they disrupted a university function.

Mtsweni said it would be pointless to have elections this late in the year just to fill three positions. “People are busy and no one will be interested because elections for next year’s house committee are around the corner.”

Chairperson of the All Residence Council, Justice Nkomo, agreed with not filling the empty positions. “Honestly, it’s too late and the elections for next year’s house committee are around the corner.”

zinhle@witsvuvuzela.com Published in last Wits Vuvuzela print edition

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Rands short of a picnic

October 2, 2012 Leave a comment

THE MEN’S Res house committee claims it does not have enough funds to subsidise the raiders for the All Res picnic.

Men’s Res house committee chairperson, Sanele Nene, said the house committee subsidised students for the All Res picnic.

“We could not raise enough funds to subsidise students to the extent that we would like,” Nene said.

Rob Sharman of Campus Housing and Residence Life said: “As the Men’s Res house committee receives one of the largest annual grants of any residence, I am not sure why they should have a shortfall.

“I have asked for a full analysis of their expenditure to date, and am happy to meet with the house committee to discuss their concerns,” Sharman said.

Nene said the reason they could not fully subsidise raiders was because of the suspension and the cancelled party.

Nene said that throughout the year Men’s Res was expected to schedule events and that the profits from these events are used to subsidise the cost of the picnic. He said they also subsidise the jackets sold to raiders.

Earlier this year the Men’s Res house committee was suspended for misconduct during orientation. Three house committee members resigned because of “frustrations” from management and the cancellation of a scheduled party.

Chairperson of the All Residence Council, Justice Nkomo, said they had a meeting on Monday September 17 with the Men’s Res house committee and “we told them that we expect Men’s Res to be there [at the picnic] and we want them to subsidise students because the amount was too much”.

He said they expected Men’s Res to fill at least 22 seats in the transport used to get to the picnic venue.

Nene said no one at Men’s Res was boycotting the All Res picnic. He said that because of the price, raiders were just not interested in going to the picnic.

“Gone are those days we used to pay R100 and get 24 drinks!” says an e-mail circulating among raiders at Men’s Res. “Wits management is trying by all means to cancel this important event and I think they are succeeding.”

Nkomo said: “management has always been very unfair when it comes to Men’s Res”.

“The issue here is that Men’s Res is trying to sabotage management and management is trying to sabotage Men’s Res.

“They don’t have the same attitude towards the other residences.”

“I am not sure where these allegations stem from”, said Sharman.

The All Res picnic is on Saturday and costs R130.

Published in last Wits Vuvuzela print edition for 2012

South Point refutes reports

September 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Image from Google Images

South Point management has moved to clarify conditions in some of its Braamfontein buildings that have featured in recent Wits Vuvuzela reports.
On Friday July 27, 2012 Wits Vuvuzela published a story stating Diamond House had empty first aid kits. Ndumiso Davidson, chief operating officer, said South Point disputed this issue. He said the keys to the kit are kept with the building manager who is contacted in case of an emergency.

“The day before the article the first aid boxes were inspected as part of a formal building inspection process and were found to be fully compliant, this is stated in building inspection reports,” said Davidson.

However the Wits Vuvuzela reporter says he saw the first aid kits “empty”.
Davidson also said the headline “Still no hot water at Norvic” from Wits Vuvuzela’s previous edition [Friday August 31 2012] was misleading.
He said the headline made it seem as though students did not have water from the beginning of the year. He said students did not have hot water on two occasions.

The first was during the installation of heat pumps and the second was when South Point decided to revert to the old system because the heat pumps were not meeting the building’s capacity, which took 18 hours to fix.

He said most students paid their rent on time “but South Point spends a considerable amount of time chasing money from students who have no intention to pay and want to find excuses for non-payment”.

Davidson said: “If we don’t receive our rental on time we will not be able to pay for electricity, water and the lift company to fix the broken lifts.”

Diamond House students had also complained about hot water problems. They said some floors in their building did not have hot water while other floors had hot water. Davison said this was due to two pressure valves that bust on the boiler and water could not be pumped all the way to the top floors.

“This is an unforeseen and unplanned occurrence. This was fixed permanently within a week,” said Davidson.

Davidson said they try to work on a two to three day turnaround time but sometimes they rely on external service providers and this can cause a delay.
Davidson said: “It’s important to note the security, water and electricity have red status at South Point. This means that they have the highest priority from our maintenance team and therefore the shortest possible response times and often the Chief Operating Officer and/or CEO is engaged with resolving the issues as soon as is humanly possible.”

<em>Published in 24th Edition September 14, 2012

Still no hot water at Norvic

August 31, 2012 Leave a comment

Norvic students claim management has gone deaf to their complaints about the lack of hot water. Image by: Zinhle Tshabalala

WITSIES staying at South Point (Norvic) say they are being ripped off because they hardly ever have hot water.

BA student Anna Tladi said there was no hot water at all on the morning of Wednesday August 29. She said they complained about the problem to the building manager, but he told them to report the matter to the security guard and write the complaint in the log book.

Tladi said the security guard told them not to write the complaint down because someone else had already noted it. At other times, she said he told them the problem was in the process of being fixed.

The building manager, who would only give his name as Trust, disputed this. He said students did not tell him about the lack of hot water. “How are we supposed to know about this problem if they don’t tell us?”

“I stay here at the Norvic building and I have my own geyser upstairs and the water is hot 24/7. So how am I supposed to know that students don’t have hot water?”

The security guard claimed students only started writing in the log book after they threatened to go on strike and take their complaint to the head office at South Point Central. He told them they would need proof that they had complained and nothing had been done, he said.

The building manager said only one student had complained about the water. He and the security guard showed Wits Vuvuzela the log book, where two written complaints had been entered during the past two months.

One complaint read: “The problem is that when we wake up before 7am there is no hot water. It only begins to heat up later. This is unacceptable because it’s winter.”

According to Tladi the students had a meeting about the problem and asked: “How many times must we write in the book in order for the problem to be fixed?”

When she had class at 8am, she woke at 1am to bath with hot water. “Between 1am and 4am the water is hot, but from 5am it’s lukewarm, but after 6am the water is cold.”

Kabelo Makgala, projects and facilities manager said he was aware of the problem. However, he said the students were exaggerating the issue. The problem was a common household issue.

He said the geysers at South Point carried about 4000 to 8000 litres of water, which took up to three hours to heat up. He explained that, if 300 students showered at the same time, the hot water would be depleted. A heat pump had been installed to assist the geyser to heat up the water all day.

Earlier this year Wits Vuvuzela reported that students at Diamond House were complaining about the lack of hot water or no water at all. Last year there was a water shortage at three South Point buildings in Braamfontein.

Published in Wits Vuvuzela 22th edition, 31 August 2012

Witsies are indifferent about SRC elections

August 24, 2012 Leave a comment

LESS than 20% of Witsies generally vote in the SRC elections – and this week’s election is not expected to draw more than 23%, according to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

This week, students were asked to vote for their 15 representatives on campus. The 23 candidates were from the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA), Democratic Alliance Students’ Organisation (Daso) or were standing as independents.

Zolile Yalwa, IEC observer of electoral management, said students were ignorant when it came to voting in the SRC elections. “Wits students don’t take voting seriously and they just don’t care.”

First year law student Sipho July said he did not vote in the elections because he did not know the SRC. July claimed he only met a few members of the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) when they were campaigning.

“It’s sad really because we’re only contacted when we’re needed for votes.”

Yalwa said the fact that students claimed not to know the SRC meant they were not concerned about the university. “These people [the SRC] will determine the policies that are going to govern your existence at Wits University.”

Out-going deputy president of the SRC, Tshepo Lethea, said the percentage of voting students had not reached 20% in a number of years. He blamed university management for not encouraging students to vote.

The university spent “serious money” on Wits90 celebrations and not enough on voting, he said.

PYA candidate Sibulele Mgudlwa said: “Student turn-out is really bad. Students are just not interested or they have better things to do.”

Mgudlwa said he felt the candidates had to do the job of the IEC in trying to draw voters. “The IEC has failed to attract and entice students to vote”.

Last year the IEC gave away MP3s and iPods to lucky student voters. But this year they were giving away T-shirts.

Yalwa commented: “To vote is to exercise your right. There is no need for incentives for students to vote … actually that would be buying people to vote.”

Published in Wits Vuvuzela 21st edition, 24th August 2012

Men’s Residence ‘quitters’

August 23, 2012 Leave a comment

THE All Res Committee (ARC) has criticised the resignation of three Men’s Res house committee members.

Sanele Nene, chairperson of the Men’s Res house committee, said the three resigned because of the frustrations the committee faced with university management. They were also experiencing academic pressure as they were neglecting their studies to serve on the committee.

“How could we continue with house comm if we face academic exclusion?” said treasurer Mxolisi Makhombothi, one of three who resigned. The other members who resigned are the secretary Bheki Khoza and maintenance and liaison officer Smangaliso Ngubane.

ARC chairperson Justice Nkomo said he understood the frustrations students had with Campus Housing and Residence Life management because they experience the same problems.

Nkomo said: “We know their frustrations but we don’t condone any form of quitting from the house committee. We encourage students to fight for what they want and not quit.” Makhombothi said when they were elected as part of the house committee they did not foresee the kinds of struggles they would face with management.

According to Nene the final straw was the aggravation they had with management regarding the “programmes they were trying to implement”. Nene explained a recent quarrel they had with management where a planned braai was cancelled without specified reasons.

“We had organised a similar braai last block and we were commended for it, so now it came as a shock as to why they wouldn’t allow this again.” Nene said students think other students in leadership positions have power but “to management you are nothing and that is sad to see because student governorship should be something that is advocated by the university”.  “The treatment of our house comm has been really poor,” he said.

Nene said the entire committee was prepared to resign but, because they knew the house would become unmanageable, they had to put aside their personal issues. Rob Sharman, head of Campus Housing and Residence Life, said he was not aware of any resignations. The Men’s Res house committee was suspended earlier this year.

Published in Wits Vuvuzela 20th Edition, 17 August 2012

Witsies behind academic strike

August 3, 2012 Leave a comment

Wits academic staff blocking Yale Road entrance.
Photo by: Zinhle Tshabalala

WITS students claim they are being exploited because fees increase annually but academic and support staff are not being paid accordingly.
SRC president Tebogo Thothela said students were supporting the academic staff strike out of principle. He said, it made no sense that for the last three years student fees and the upfront fee had increased, yet that money was not being used to pay Wits employees.
“Where is this money going to?”Thothela asked.
“The university is fattening their reserves”, said Mukovhe Morris Masutha, former SRC president. “Every year the fees increased we were told that the money was going to pay academic staff, but they are not being paid.”
Khanyisa Chauke, 3rd year engineering, said the staff should get what they are protesting for because they deserve to be paid fairly. She said the money in the reserves should be used to pay the staff, because students already pay high fees compared to other institutions and therefore the money should be put to good use.
Thothela said most importantly their support for the strike was to ensure that no one suggests that student fees should increase in order to pay for academic salaries.
“We are here to tell lecturers that we are supporting you but it must never be at the expense of our fellow students”.
He said it was also in the worker’s best interest to keep the fees and upfront fees low because staff members also have children who attend the university.