AS the university gets ready to welcome all students back on campus under the level 1 Risk Alert, the Interim Student Representative Council (SRC) President, Mr Siphiwo Ngcenge is calling on students to pull together and make this year a success.
In an interview with This Week@FortHare, Ngcenge gave assurance that the SRC would continue working tirelessly with the university management to ensure no student is left behind.
“There is no doubt that we are all anxious as we enter unchartered grounds. We have never been here before and no one has. All of this is new. But with a positive mindset and sheer determination, we can finish this year under the ‘new norm’ said Ngcenge.
“We have agreed with the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic Affairs that priority must be given to first-years. Based on the fact that most of them come from rural backgrounds, they will need additional support to be fully integrated into the university community. The support offered to first-years will range from extensive tutoring to ongoing consultations, on and off campus.”
He said while delays in the allocation of data and laptop distribution continue to exist due to circumstances beyond the control of the university, progress is being made.
“About 93% of students are now receiving their data. Our aim is to ensure all students receive their data. In terms of laptops, there is a huge backlog but we are confident that all students will receive their laptops soon,” he said.
Ngcenge cited four key elements that he believes would make the adjustment to the ‘new norm’ achievable:
1. Proper consultation
3. Adequate staff, and
4. Positive attitudes
“If we could have these key elements in place, adjusting to the new norm will be easy,” he said.
Ngcenge said the SRC’s priority now is to get the catch-up plan finalized. “We have applied pressure and we hope the plan will be available by the end of this week.”
He advised students to use their time wisely and to focus on their studies.
“Time is limited, but if used wisely, it is doable. And should you get stuck, the Student Counselling Unit is available for counselling support. For academic support, we have our Peer Educators who are on standby to assist.”
The President also indicated that the SRC’s Academic Officers from all three campuses (East London, Alice and Bisho) were in the process of identifying suitable spaces to set up consultation offices.
“We are working with the Covid-19 Task Team to ensure these consultation offices will be safe and compliant with Covid-19 health and safety regulations.”
To fellow students and the entire university community, Ngcenge conveyed a heartfelt motivational message: “We need to join hands and pull through this year, together.”