CPUT student structures have to agree to the ideology of the SRC or face being being kicked off campus. Can the SRC do this?

The short answer

The SRC has mistaken its mandate, which is to lead, represent and defend the student body according to the SRC Constitution, in favour of asserting its own ideological preferences.

The whole question

I hope this finds you well. Here is a document that we as student structures at CPUT have been forced to agree to or face being kicked off campus. Many student structures are affected and the document has been given to a number of lawyers. (For convenience the SRC document is copied below.)

We hope to keep serving the campus, and we hope you can help us!

CPUT District Six SRC document

REQUIREMENTS FOR RECOGNITION OF STUDENT ORGANISATIONS AND CSOs.

These are requirements for affiliation of structures. All of these requirements are meant to be met by all structures that seek affiliation under this newly democratic elected SRC by the majority of the student populace. There will be no favours that will be granted to any structure, fairness is going to apply.

As we all know or aware of our SRC constitution that grant SRC powers to affiliate all structures that desire to be affiliated.

According to our SRC constitution on section/ chapter 7 it elucidates very clear in terms of affiliation process please revisit it and familiarise it so that you can be aware of what is required before you submit application.

1. Each and every organisation or CSO is required to have a constitution that speak direct to the needs of our students.

2. List of the Leadership structure with their details (registered students).

3. List of membership signed by members with all relevant/ required information.

4. Every structure or CSO must have a meal-a-day program on its plenary and sanitary towels program.

5. The constitution of the structure must address a free quality and afro centric education that speak direct to free decolonised education.

6. A structure must promote academic excellence by addressing blended learning tha speak direct to technology advancement as we all know that we are in the fourth industrial revolution, so students must be provided by modems/ data.

7. We need a structure that promote sport activities and social activities in due time.

8. Each and every structure is required to promote socialism at our campus.

9. Each structure must have a clause that indicates that they will take place in all protest actions organised by the SRC.

10. Each structure must have declaration that they will contribute to student governance, they will stand as a shield with the SRC defending students from any form of oppression.

Be reminded that if the constitution or POA of your organisation or CSO does not comply with our requirements, the organisation shall not granted affiliation. Failure to affiliate will mean you will not be allowed to utilise the resources of the institution. You will not be granted an office or be able to book the venues of the institution.

The long answer

Thank you for your email about the letter from the newly elected SRC at CPUT.

It seems the SRC has mistaken its mandate, which is to lead, represent and defend the student body according to the SRC Constitution, in favour of asserting its own ideological preferences. The authoritarianism displayed in this letter is clearly at odds with both the Constitution of our country as well as the SRC Constitution, whose point 1.10.2 commits the SRC to act at all times with due regard to the principles of fairness, justice, unity, dignity and equity. Point 1.1.6 states that the SRC is determined to be in compliance with the Constitution of South Africa, besides the rules of the university.

So for example, the requirement that all students give up their right to decide whether or not they wish to protest and simply allow the SRC to take over this right, is not in line with our constitutional rights. The Bill of Rights, which expressly provides for freedom of expression and freedom of association and belief, must trump the desire for control.

As the SRC letter says, students would do well to become familiar with the provisions of the SRC Constitution, and what the powers of students are in relation to the SRC and how these powers may be exercised. For example, how objections can be registered, how special meetings of the student body can be demanded and what the appeals process is, step by step, should the SRC use its “reasonable discretion” to refuse a student organisation affiliation.

But in the end it is also very much an organisational issue: students will need to be organised around very clear simple rights that everyone can understand and support, and you will need be able to show what these rights mean in practice on campus. You will also need to point out clearly that these rights are in fact part of what the elected SRC has to uphold.

We think it’s very important that students are not intimidated or bullied into submission, and do not give in to the creeping authoritarianism that is fast becoming a “normal” feature of our society.

You could contact organisations like Equal Education (021 361 0127) and Lawyers for Human Rights for advice at 021 424 8561.

Wishing you all the best.

Answered on April 29, 2019, 10:50 a.m.

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