By Jordan du Toit
The Rhodes University Student Representative Council (SRC) recently revealed proposed amendments to the SRC constitution in an effort to streamline the student organisation.
Changes will include alterations to the SRC term of office; modifying the residence councillor election process; a new portfolio of secretary general; changes in the portfolio of the vice president internal and the implementation of the academic councillor as a permanent executive.
“This is an important strategic move,” said Martin Forsyth, current Vice President Internal of the SRC. Silvanus Welcome, current vice president external, added that the amendments are imperative for the efficiency and effectiveness of the SRC.
The term of office for a councillor currently runs from the end of the third university term until the same time the following year. The change would have SRC councillors serve from January through to December instead, while the elections would remain at the end of the third term of the previous year. The incoming SRC will have time to shadow the outgoing councillors before they are handed the reins. Currently they assume their roles almost immediately.
“This move will make sure the students are not disadvantaged and that the SRC can be more powerful,” said Forsyth.
The residence councillor is currently elected in a secondary election. This means the new councillor joins the SRC almost a month later, missing the crucial learning and bonding time essential for a cohesive SRC. Brad Bense, current SRC Media Councillor, said, “The term of office isn’t long so to come in late is unfortunate for the councillor.”
The reason for the implementation of the secretary general post is to promote efficiency. Presently, the Vice President Internal’s role comprises two elements: administerial duties and various responsibilities as vice president, such as attending functions if the president cannot. “When I first assumed office I could do the admin perfectly but as issues started to come in I became stretched quite thin,” said Forsyth. This seems true of all the previous vice president internals. Under the proposed amendments, responsibilities would been re-apportioned between the vice president (previously vice president internal), the president and the secretary general (previously vice president external) to avoid this problem.
The academic councillor will become a permanent member of the executive council if the amendment is passed. Rhodes is an academic institution and the SRC feel that this inclusion will reflect that.
The amendment-process is intricate. The proposal is first brought before the student forum (comprising all the student leaders) and then taken to the student body for evaluation. It then goes back to the student forum for re-evaluation. The amendment is brought before the Student Services council chaired by the Dean of Students, Dr Vivian de Klerk. If approved there, the amendment is taken to the Senate, chaired by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Saleem Badat. Finally it moves to the University council where after it will come into effect. These last two meetings are next scheduled for 1 June and 14 June respectively.