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The Oppidan Press
Edition 3, 19 March 2013
Photo: Frances Solomon
CoMING CLEAN: the ritual of loss
Photo: Holly Meadows
Photo: TAURIQ DOLLEY
The Oppidan Press 19 March 2013
Fire safety not a priority in Oppidan accommodation
By Amanda Xulu and Fezokuhle Mthonti Grahamstown is constantly adapting to meet the increasing demands of a growing student population. Accommodation is also susceptible to these ever-changing demands and one is accustomed to seeing new apartment buildings rise up almost every year. The Oppidan Press looked into the apparent lack of emergency staircase exits at a number of apartment buildings in Grahamstown, despite these being legal requirements. The role of the builders, estate agents, students and the Makana Municipality Department of Fire and Rescue Services was discussed with a number of students and questions were raised about the lax emergency safety standards that are arguably a reality in Grahamstown. According to the National Building and Regulations Act, buildings are to follow a set of requirements in order to comply with precautionary measures against fires or any other emergencies. These precautionary measures include providing the occupants of buildings with specific aids or installations for the combating or prevention of fires and for the vacating of such buildings in case of fires. When The Oppidan Press initiated research amongst a number of Oppidan students, specifically in the new apartment blocks in Grahamstown, it was found that no such measures existed or were in place. When asked if she knew of any of the safety measures used at the Hub on African, student Lindelwa Bolani responded in the negative, saying that, “We have not been informed about what to do in case of an emergency. The whole situation is completely different from the set up in res when we would have fire drills every term. I think these were important and should be implemented in apartment buildings like the Hub so that one is prepared.” When asked to comment about the discussions and seminars held by the Oppidan Union concerning fires in buildings and what to do if such a situation arises, Bolani said, “The talks are really important but I do feel that these kinds of things should also be the responsibility of real estate agents and landlords as they are the ones that primarily deal with us because of the
Serious stand against fraud
By Ndileka Lujabe he 2012 second semester report, concerning disciplinary cases at the Proctor level, was released on Rhodes University’s website on 31 January 2013. The report included a number of cases concerning students who have committed fraud: a marked increase from previous years. In the first semester of 2011, only one case of fraud was finalised, incurring a fine of R3 323,75. The second semester of 2011 experienced a small increase, with three cases finalised. Similarly, in the first semester of 2012 only one fraud case was finalised at the Proctor level. However, the number moved up to five in the second semester. There were also an additional four cases of fraud relating to fraudulent Leave of Absence (LOA) documents. This increase in the number of fraud cases speaks to concerns surrounding how casually students perceive fraud an illegal act - as well as the consequences involved once caught committing the crime. Dean of Students (DoS) Dr Vivian de Klerk believes that the prevalence of fraud is in fact a representation of the type of upbringing they [the students] have had. “It is a comment on the social backgrounds of our students, and the values and principles some of them bring with them to Rhodes,” said de Klerk. De Klerk added that participating in the act of fraud, consciously plagiarising someone’s work or faking an LOA, “surely reflects a background in which moral values and integrity have not been highly regarded”. A third-year student, wishing not to disclose her identity, found herself at a hearing last year in which she was suspected of having plagiarised an entire paragraph of her second-year History essay from the Internet. The lecturer who suspected her of plagiarism, recognised the excerpt, typed it into a search engine and contacted the student to notify her of his suspicions. Being one of very few, the student was lucky enough to get away with a warning and blamed her carelessness on bad time management as well as a heavy workload. Liezel Ewels, who is studying a Post-graduate Diploma (PGDip)in Accounting, has tutored Theory of Finance (ToF), and has dealt with cases in which her students, who copied each other’s work, were reported to the lecturer and they were warned of being awarded a zero for all their work. “Because the work is easy, it appears tedious and so the students just want to be done with it, especially because I tutored a Friday group,” said Ewels. Another Accounting PGDip student Refilwe Mthethwa stated that with subjects like ToF, it is hard to identify plagiarists as it involves mathematical calculations which lead to all the students having the same answers. Mthethwa blames the prevalence of fraud on this exact reason. She added that it is common to see a group of students outside the Great Hall, particularly on Thursdays and Fridays, copying each other’s work. “You’re not learning anything,” said Mthethwa, “There’s so much at stake. You sacrifice your degree for a tut you simply didn’t want to put effort into.” However, intern psychologist at the
Illustration: Amy Slatem
The fact that the Fire Department is unsure of where a place is located in Grahamstown is extremely worrying... that could mean that they could get lost on their way to put out a fire
- Martin Blore Student
University’s Counselling Centre, Dona Mitchell, believes that people who resort to activities of fraud may do so because they have no respect for social norms and think they may be too good to get caught. “It could also be that they feel their own work will not be good enough so they feel the need to plagiarise,” Mitchell said. She also pointed out that a student may be suffering from “Antisocial Personality Disorder”, which is partly characterised by the failure of a person to conform to social norms with regard to lawful behaviours, this is indicated by repeated acts that are grounds for arrest and/or legal action. While this cannot be attributed to all of those who commit fraud, Mitchel said that it could be just pure laziness and thinking that you will not get caught. “The Internet is getting bigger and bigger and students think that a lecturer is never going to find out.” While poor time management skills as well as laziness can be blamed, ignorance can’t be an excuse to lean on when sitting face-to-face with the Proctor at a hearing. Students in their first year are bombarded with countless plagiarism seminars and are “expected to have read the Disciplinary Code, which is in the calendar, and available on the website, and they must take full responsibility for their actions,” advised de Klerk. With the possibility of severe penalties ranging from exclusion, six months to three years, heavy fines, as well as compulsory community service of up to 60 hours, students should think carefully before deciding to fake a doctor’s note or copy an assignment.
leases we sign with them.” A call was made to the Makana Municipality Department of Fire and Rescue Services and the operator seemed unsure about the estimated response time to a fire at the Hub on African, showing a lack of muchneeded interest in the safety of the town’s inhabitants. Student Martin Blore said, “The fact that the Fire Department is unsure of where a place is located in Grahamstown is extremely worrying because that could potentially mean that they could get lost on their way to put out a fire. Again, this just shows that there is a culture of negligence from all sides about upholding safety standards and I am very grateful that I do not live in an apartment building.” It can also be argued that the lack of student interest in these safety precautions has attributed to the poor planning and implementation of evacuation plans in apartment buildings around Grahamstown. By not asking the appropriate questions or holding both their landlords and realtors to account, students may be inherently resigned to the possibility of their possessions or valuables being lost or damaged in fires. It seems that the lack of concern about emergency exits and safety measures alike are not restricted to just students or the real estate agents. Commenting on such student indifference, Tapuwa Sunga, who lives at Somerset Corner, said, “It seems that there are people who care about these precautionary measures but I don’t think that there are enough of us that care to go to the workshops.”
Social media as a method of organisation for social movements
Work and photographs from The Oppidan Press’s interns
Photographs from LGBTiQ Pride Week
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Bold political activism during IAW
Tarryn de Kock and Kyla Hazell Politics It is in the hands of people like us, states and businesses to make the campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions [against Israel] a success.” So spoke Ulandi du Plessis, a Rhodes Masters student and one of the organisers of this year’s Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW), an international awareness campaign which takes place in many universities and cities all over the world. Rhodes University’s Palestinian Solidarity Forum (RUPSF) took charge of organising the events of IAW 2013, which ran from the 11 – 15 March. IAW aims to raise awareness against Israeli based occupation of Palestine. The week witnessed a number of events and discussions taking place on campus. Seminars covered a range of issues with one of the most prominent being concern over the difficulties associated with “Everyday Occupation” in Palestine. The discussion explored the restrictions placed on people in the Israeli occupied territory. The global week of protest parallels Israeli actions in Palestine with those of the National Party government during apartheid in South Africa. One of IAW’s lunchtime lectures featured Ayanda Kota of the Unemployed People’s Movement who explained the analogy drawn between the former apartheid South Africa and the current conflict between Israel and Palestine, adding that the alleged connection has been subject to criticism. “There is a debate that says there is no apartheid in Palestine – that it is just a matter of conflict,” said Kota. “That idea on its own is problematic. There is a source of the conflict. The entire conflict is unthinkable without taking into account the oppression, dispossession and exploitation practiced by Israel against Palestine. There are always consequences of these things, and that brews the conflict… There is always one force that dominates.” The seminars, from a Palestinian point of view, provided interesting insight into the conflict. While IAW focuses specifically on raising awareness in terms of the Palestinian perspective, it is recognised that both Israel and Palestine have acted violently towards each other, with casualties ranging in the thousands. The tensions which arise between the supporters of Palestine and the supporters of Israel are high and were felt on the Rhodes University campus during IAW week. These tensions were brought to the surface most notably when the Rhodes Music Department was visited by Israeli pianist Yossi Reshef for a performance on Monday the 11 March. The event elicited outrage and protest from members of the IAW. The department itself was deplored for what RUPSF considered to be turning a blind eye to the atrocities of the Israeli state. The forum sent an open letter to head of the music department, Dr Jeff Brukman, calling for him to pull the plug on the event. This move was supported by 45 of the Rhodes academics who were attending the event. Reshef ’s following performance, which took place at the University of the Witwatersrand on Tuesday 12 March, was met with similar if not greater protest, leading to its cancellation. Students at the Wits protest commented that Reshef ’s one-week stay in the country was a deliberate attempt to undermine the IAW. The press statement released by Tasneem Essop, spokesperson for the Wits University Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) reflected the stance taken by the Wits Students Representative Council (SRC) which “calls for the full cultural and academic boycott of Israeli institutions”, a motion that was “unanimously adopted” The use of the term ‘apartheid’ to describe the Palestinian situation has been met with varying reactions. The term itself is loaded because of South Africa’s violent history, and several commentators have deplored its usage as inappropriate. However, prominent activist and writer Naomi Klein, speaking at an address at the University of Toronto, argued that to what degree the analogy of apartheid is exact or not is beside the point. “The use of the term is powerful because it is one of the few political classifications that still holds weight and recalls a particular point in history, a particular memory of oppression that remains with people today.” Missing from last week’s events was the presence of a forum known as ‘Balance the Debate’ which was widely seen during the 2012 IAW and which offered an alternative voice, one in solidarity with the Israeli cause, to the debate. The group, which focused on issues regarding Israel, explored how IAW was represented and the problematic use of the term ‘apartheid’. A primary concern of theirs was the fear that the use of the emotionally loaded
19 March 2013 The Oppidan Press 3
Irene Calis, a guest lecturer in the Rhodes University Politics Department spoke about “Eveyday Occupation” in Palestine. Photo: Kirsten Makin term ‘apartheid’ to describe the situation between Israel and Palestine could blind people to understanding the true complexity of the situation and engaging with the issues on either side so that constructive debate towards resolution can take place. The noticeable absence of ‘Balance the debate’ as an alternative voice on campus during IAW brought into question the particular stance of the students and governing structures within the Rhodes institution. While the debate between Israel and Palestine looks to continue into the far future, Camalita Naicker, an MA Politics student, at the end of one seminar offered a message which one can explore in a number of ways. ‘If the project is humanism, one can recognise it anywhere; what we are pursuing is a project of humanity.’
Societies assist in a successful human rights week
By Lonwabo Nodada “I hope that my actions as an ability activist will leave the world more accepting and more accommodating for all people and not just people with disabilities. Because we are all different and we all have the need to be accepted,” said Chaeli Mycroft in her 2011 Children’s Peace Prize acceptance speech. Rhodes University saw a number of its societies involve themselves in the events of this year’s Human Rights Week, which took place during the week of 4 March. The week saw the celebrations of a university that promotes diversity and advocates for the equal treatment of all its students. The event began with an address from the International Children’s Peace Prize Winner Chaeli Mycroft, who addressed both students and lecturers at the Eden Grove Lecture Theatre on Sunday 3 March. Living with Cerebral Palsy, Mycroft is a key advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, particularly children. For the Chaeli Campaign, Mycroft stated that she, “aims to mobilise the minds and bodies of children with disabilities and to normalise society through advocacy and education programmes and events”. Mycroft’s advocacy for the acceptance and accommodation of everyone was mirrored by OUTRhodes and their activism for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) rights. Avoiding the conventional discussion setting, OUTRhodes invited students to watch the movie Simon and I on another evening. Chosen for its applicability to the topic of LGBT rights in South Africa, Simon and I is a movie about South African Gay Rights activists Beverly Ditsie and Simon Nkuli, and tells the story of their efforts to get LGBTi rights into the new South African Bill of Rights. Larissa Klazinga, who is both the university’s Student Services Officer and Student Anti-Harassment Officer, facilitated the discussion which followed the movie. Access to water, a prominent issue facing the Grahamstown community, was also raised for discussion and was supported by both Galela Amanzi and Rhodes Debating. Concern was raised with regard to the endless emails students have received containing warnings of the harmful nature of the town’s water. A question was then posed: is this the result of pure negligence on behalf of our municipality and the South African government as a whole? Entitled “This House Would Privatise the Provision of Basic Utilities”, the debate explored the notion of the privatisation of water and whether or not it would be better for the country. Supplying underprivileged communities in Grahamstown with rainwater tanks, Galela Amanzi has made this basic human right their responsibility. “One of our responsibilities is to ensure that we engage the student population on water issues because it is often an issue not covered in the university’s curriculum for many courses. So by having a debate we hope that we are getting people to think more about these important issues that have an effect on people’s everyday lives,” said the Galela Amanzi Chairperson Manosa Nthunya. Human Rights Week came to an end on 8 March with the Rhodes Underwater Hockey Club holding a learn-to-swim event with the Lebone Children’s Centre, who emphasise the right to play and the right to learn.
Chaeli Mycroft addressed students and staff on Sunday, 3 March, 2012 at Eden Grove Lecture Theatre. Photo: SHANNON HUCKLESBY
The Oppidan Press 19 March 2013
House rules contested
By Tanah Rigney and Shannon Frost Politics House committees are often the first part of students’ introduction to residence life upon arriving at Rhodes University. All house committees on campus undergo a training programme before first years arrive in Orientation Week, but many students question how these committees are organised and who decides their duties. Several house wardens from the hill-based residences commented that the running of the committee is at the complete discretion of the warden. “Ruth First is the same as every other. We follow the rules laid out in the Student Disciplinary Code (SDC) and hall rulebook. That doesn’t have much to do with how I run my house committee, however,” said Warden of Ruth First House Larissa Klazinga. As a result of this, the residence experience differs depending on which house a student is placed in. Sbusi Mashaya, a first-year in Margaret Smith, said that her house committee members were very kind and made her feel at home, working together as a group and including her in activities. With house committee members situated throughout the house, it is easier for students to approach them for help regarding anything from finding lecture venues to linking up to ResNet. While some residences have maintained most of their traditional activities and rituals throughout the successive generations, rules and policies are beginning to change for many of the original halls - changes which all students are apparently not fond of. The most controversial modification to specific halls’ rules and policies involve inter-visiting regulations. Currently, there are eight halls in the entire Rhodes campus which allow guests of the opposite sex of the host/ hostess to accompany their guest into their residence until a specified time. The other three halls, Courtenay-Latimer Hall, Hobson Hall and St Mary’s Hall, have implemented the rule that, regardless of sex, all guests must be signed in and escorted at all times during their visit to their host/hostess’s residence. Many students within these halls were outraged by this new regulation and voiced their concerns. Resident of Jameson House Nina Reinach felt that inter-visiting rules were being too strictly enforced without enough consultation with students who live in the residences. Regardless of these policies being enforced verbally by the 2013 house committees, the newly published Rules & Information Handbook supplied to students does not state anywhere that female guests need to be signed in. A sense of confusion arose around this policy. However, Hobson Hall Warden Ruth Jackson confirmed that this rule had been officially approved by the Dean of Students office, but was unfortunately not finalised before the printing of the 2013 handbooks. Jackson guarantees that the students of 2014 will have no confusion regarding this. matter and as a result no exceptions will be made. Despite the controversy, general consensus has been that most house committees are run in a strong, effective manner. Several first-years expressed their gratitude towards the support and efforts made by their house committees during O-Week as they are one of the main support systems for students.
The SRC facebook page was intended to help with communication between the student body and the council. Photo: Ivan Blazic
SRC website intends to turn page on Facebook drama
By Chelsey Wilken Politics ounded as a “platform provided to the students of Rhodes University to channel healthy discussions and debates” the Student Representative Council (SRC) Facebook page is rapidly shifting from a space intended to provide “a positive, helpful aid to all students at Rhodes University” to a platform in which meaningful contact between students and members of the SRC is lost between daily drama and personal advertisements. The state of the SRC Facebook page raises questions regarding the communicative capabilities of the SRC, an issue which was addressed at the most recent Student Forum meeting, held on Thursday 28 February. While SRC President Sakhe Badi apologised for the issues in communication between the SRC and the students over the course of last year, Secretary General Mathaabe Thabane insisted that the Media Councillor’s portfolio simply needed “tweaking” to ensure better communication this year. The “communication problems” which were faced last year between societies and the SRC were briefly touched upon in the forum and resulted from so-called “administrative problems”. This came down to the fact that many societies do not have generic email addresses and thus information therefore gets lost during the handover processes. Making efforts towards a more effective means of communication the SRC announced at the Student Forum that it is looking forward to the launch of its new website at the end of the first semester. The website, which will run independently from Student Zone, aims to solve the much-criticised lack of communication between the SRC and the student body. According to the new Media Councillor Lulama Qongqo, without the editing constraints they currently have to work under on the Rhodes University website, the new SRC website will be more enticing and appealing to the students. It will also link to social media making it easily accessible to students on the go. Councillors’ contact details and meeting minutes, which are supposed to be available on the Rhodes website, will now be more readily available in order to promote and sustain transparency. The website intends to be entertaining and informative, offering visuals and interactive links. Events will also be advertised on the page. The website intends to serve the original functions of the SRC Facebook page. The 2011/2012 SRC President Matthieu Maralack, commented at the end of 2012, stating that “The Facebook page has diverted from its original purpose: to serve as a means of communication.” Maralack went on to say that the Facebook page was not the ideal platform with which to interact with the SRC, and so SRC members often distanced themselves from the page, most specifically during last year’s lengthy and controversial election process. Maralack’s sentiments were echoed by recently-instated SRC Media Councillor, Qongqo. “The SRC won’t police the Facebook page. Only extreme cases will lead to intervention,” she said. Although the SRC continues to distance itself from the Facebook page’s daily commentary, it appears that council members have opposing views on the purposes of the page than that of Maralack last year. SRC Liaison Eric Ofei said he was looking forward to the controversy on the Facebook page surrounding the by-elections this year. Many students have critiqued the use of the Facebook page, including student John-Edward Ferreira, who claimed that people using the page, “discuss nothing of any relevance 95% of the time”. Responding to the issue of businesses advertising on the page, Qongqo said that she doesn’t agree with outside businesses advertising on the page but that she found it acceptable to advertise in order to benefit students. According to Qongqo, the advertisement of student rates or promotions was acceptable bearing in mind the original intentions of the page. She went on to say that it was a positive thing to see students advertising textbooks for sale as well as digs rental opportunities. “Some may regard this as spam, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea,” said Qongqo. “However, it is for the student body.” The SRC often says that it prides itself on accountability and responsiveness. However, on the page there are more comments from students than from councillors themselves, unless they are promoting an event. Qongqo explained that many answers to questions posted on the SRC Facebook page are available on the SRC website. “When questions are relevant, the SRC tries to avoid misinforming, which is why responses are slow,” said Qongqo. She was adamant that there will be no response to slander towards the SRC and that only if an inquiry is lodged formally, will it be dealt with. Qongqo commented that hopefully the new website will bridge the gap between the SRC and the student body. “It’s not going to do it all, but the smaller the gap the better, and I hope that students who are not happy about the Facebook page will be happy to use the website as an alternative means of communication.”
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Societies Councillor cross-examined at Student Forum
By Mitchell Shaun Parker Politics RC Societies Councillor Amanda Green faced vigorous questioning from a clearly frustrated electorate at the opening session of the Rhodes Student Forum on Thursday 28 February. Despite promises made by Green that there would be a firmer hand from the SRC regarding societies - that special grants would be allocated for projects and that communication would be improved between the SRC and society heads - the response from the audience demonstrated that this had not been the case. Treasurer of the Gender Action Project (GAP) Stuart Lewis asked Green whether the society policy had been updated, or whether the 2001 policy was still in effect, to which she affirmed the latter. This has not proven true. A ratified amendment to the SRC’s 2003 society policy existed that Green knew nothing about. Her immediate response was to declare it a rumour. Furthermore, there is also an unratified policy amendment from 2008 that has also been in use, alleged Jean-Michel Gaud, Societies Councillor for 2010/11. As Societies Councillor, it was expected that Green would be aware of any and all policy applicable to her portfolio, and her lack of such knowledge concerned students at the Forum. It was noted that because the 2003 policy has been ratified, it is the policy that should legally be followed, which is problematic considering that its existence was only recently brought to light. Key differences between the 2001 and 2003 policy include report backs from societies being required only once every semester – as opposed to termly as the 2001 policy dictates. More importantly, the number of members required by a society per year is in fact not 10 but 26, something that could drastically alter the activity status of a number of the societies around campus. Very little has actually been heard from Green with regard to which of the policies apply. When asked about the policy amendment, Green stated that the SRC “have been informed that the University has no record what so ever of the 2003 policy having being approved…” However, this is disputed. Paul Hjul, legal advisor for the SRC in 2004, during changes to the Student Constitution, has confirmed that during his time at Rhodes, the policy in question did in fact exist and he has read documents that prove this. Senate minutes from the 6 June 2003 verify this. Under agenda point 2003.02.08 Essential information such as the society de-registering process was only posted on the SRC’s informally used Facebook page on 4 March, which wasn’t sufficient for campus-wide distribution of the information. Roughly a third of the Rhodes student population are members of the SRC page and many are oblivious to being able to deregister from only two societies or having to return all tangible items received upon signing up. These crucial pieces of information should have been given to students before the Society Sign-up evening so as to reduce risk to both students and societies. However, issues with the current administration do not end there. SRC communication - or the lack thereof - has been a pressing issue for many students despite the council’s insistence that it takes communication with the student body seriously. Multiple representatives voiced their criticism of this at the Student Forum. Chair of the Rhodes Debating Society Keagan Pretorius requested that dates and times of meetings be communicated more effectively and in a more timeous manner in future. A further complaint was posed by Lewis regarding lack of communication from the Societies Councillor with regards to mismanagement of the grants required to run societies effectively. Emails were sent to both Green and SRC President Sakhe Badi, but neither replied until ten minutes before the commencement of the Student Forum. This lack of communication on behalf of the Societies Councillor, and the SRC in general, limits the ability of those invested in the successful running of an SRC to have their grievances heard. Society chairs felt they could not be expected to be active participants in the student governance process if they were constantly kept out of the loop. It was claimed by Secretary General Mathaabe Thabane that during Orientation Week, Green was busy updating contact lists and working on administrative issues. Contrary to this, an ACTS representative commented that she had submitted her email address to Green and had still not received further communication. However, there have been reports of some progress. After the Student Forum, a meeting was held to elect the Society Council. The meeting saw RUCUS Head JC Bailey being elected chairperson of the council and Staci Scallan, of Babilanto Society, as secretary. It is hoped that this council will help keep the Societies Councillor in line for the remainder of her term. Grants have also been a matter of trouble for the SRC. The Live Music Society (LMS) was scheduled to have their Meet and Greet on 2 March, but it was cancelled due to poor attendance relating to their inability to advertise because grants were not available when they should have been. Chairperson of the society Gregory Crichton, commented on the SRC Facebook page that, “Due to the error with the SRC, there was no money in the account to pay for posters.” He later asked new members not to get discouraged by the society and thanked them for all their support, imploring them to continue to support LMS. The issue at hand is that if people do become discouraged they may deregister, which has financial repercussions on societies and may impede their ability to function properly. A lot of what is expected from Green has yet to be realised. As Thabane aptly said, “You can either be great in the position or not.” Many societies feel that Green has not fulfilled her duties thus far. Whether this is a result of personal mismanagement or a flawed system for societies, is up for debate. It is at least certain that change is urgently needed.
19 March 2013 The Oppidan Press
WildREACH seeks to educate students about environmental sustainability
By Nicola Poulos Environment Symbiotic relationships were built between environmental education and outreach teams and 14 of the most enthusiastic and willing underprivileged high school pupils in Grahamstown. At 7am on 16 February the WildREACH task team gathered up pupils from their respective schools around the Joza township and made tracks to St Francis Bay for what turned out to be, “one of the most educational trips [both parties] have been on,” according to team leader Willem Malherbe. The outing was organised by WildREACH, a recently established environmental outreach organisation comprised of Rhodes students which aims to teach underprivileged children about conservation and the value of their environment. Breaking away from the traditional in-land trips such as the recent Shamwari visit, WildREACH teamed up with the Sustainable Seas Centre (SSC) in St Francis Bay for their first ocean visit. “A lot of first times were experienced on this trip,” explained Sheena Talma from WildREACH. It was the first time these children have had the opportunity to study the rocky shore and learn about hands-on scientific data collection, to see jelly fish, star fish, penguins and Fish Eagles in real life, experience a boat ride in the open ocean, put up tents and camp outdoors and for some, to learn how to swim. “It’s uncanny actually - the small things we take for granted,” reflected Talma. While the logistics of the trip were organised by WildREACH, the team of Canadian student volunteers at SSC organised and ran the daily activities. Ally Stocks and Chida Henry from SSC ran interactive lessons with the pupils on topics such as data collection, predation, evolution, acids and bases and ecological footprints. The content and approach to the lessons were perfectly adapted to the target group and were well received by the pupils. Ntsinkeleo Charles and Thero Ngqingili, pupils from Ntsika Secondary School and Nathaniel Nyaluza Secondary School respectively, stood out from the crowd with their unmatched levels of enthusiasm. Both pupils said one of their best experiences was being able to bond with the new friends they made on this trip and “blend in with and the SSC and WildREACH teams,” said Ngqingili. In the car ride home Charles told the group how happy he was to finally realise his dream of riding in a boat. “I learned that the things I do can affect the ocean, even though I’m not living at the ocean,” he said. Commenting on what he is going to take home with him from the trip Charles said, “I learnt new ways to reduce my ecological footprint with things I never noticed before that we just take for granted.” Seeing how interested the children were about reducing their ecological footprints was “encouraging to see,” said Craig Sholto-Douglas of WildREACH. Ngqingili added to the reflective conversation saying, “It’s not where you come from or what you have that makes you able to change the ocean to be better. Everyone can do it, even if you’re not near the ocean.” Ngqingili
WildREACH teams up with the Sustainable Seas Centre (SSC) in St Francis Bay to teach Grahamstown high school pupils about environmental awareness and conservation. Photo: NICOLA POULOS said learning the names of the shells such as limpits, chiten, clams and barnacles that he encountered on the beach from the SCC volunteers Alex Allison and Blair Fraser made him feel more connected to what he now considers real live sea creatures that he can potentially affect through his lifestyle. As well as learning about sea life, Ngqingili said that he also learned about plant biodiversity from SholtoDouglas. The reciprocal bond that formed between these two individuals was heart-warming to see. SholtoDouglas said that he learned a lot from the pupils but Ngqingili taught him about medicinal plants and trees while on the beach scavenger hunt. It is outings such as these that change young minds for the better. Commenting on the trip, Henry exclaimed that this “is exactly the kind of thing we’ve been wanting to do since we arrived here.” Henry went on to explain, “We planned to work with the local schools here but it never really worked out. During the festive season we ran a schedule of educational beach walks etc. but nothing has been as successful and interactive as this.” Malherbe agrees that the trip went swimmingly and admits that as a newly formed task team (this being the first trip they have planned together) they have learnt a lot. Sholto-Douglas expanded that not only did they learn about their own capabilities as individuals and as a task team, they learned from the SSC volunteers’ level of experience and expertise in educational trips such as this one. Both Malherbe and Sholto-Douglas expressed thanks to the SSC team for their “unreal” performance and hospitality.
The Oppidan Press 19 March 2013
New Year’s Dam in Alicedale has been cleared of water hyacinth as a result of Professor Martin Hill’s research. Photo: MARTIN HILL
Nature vs Nature: using biological control to fight pests
By Jordan du Toit Environment small-scale war of the worlds rages on constantly between plants, pests and their human allies. However, new research, such as the work of Professor Martin Hill, head of the Entomology Department, is turning this war upside down. His research is designed to help nature control itself in both the citrus industry and national lakes and dams. Citrus is South Africa’s third largest horticultural industry and contributes approximately R6.5 billion to the agriculture industry annually. However, this cash crop is under
siege by a tiny invader. The False Coddling moth larvae cause the exported citrus plants to rot by the time they get to the market. Hill’s research aims to limit the use of pesticides by looking at genetic options instead. “These pests have viruses. We can culture them and spray them back onto the crop. The beauty is it’s hostspecific,” said Hill, alluding to the many inadvertent side effects caused by pesticides. Entomology Masters student Kennedy Zimba, who works under Hill in the department, is aiming to research the use of a larvae parasitoid in order to control the moth. “The parasitoid has a potential success rate of 34% and is predominant in South Africa,”
explained Zimba. The parasitoid can conveniently identify moth eggs before human detection is possible, therefore saving the crop before it is exported. In biocontrol terms, the parasitoid could be the secret agent of pest controls. “This control will allow infested fruit to be identified at farm level,” said Zimba. The second facet of Hill’s research concerns water hyacinths. The sight of a green, suffocating lake or dam is something most South Africans will have seen. South Africa is a waterscarce country and loses up to 9% of its annual run-off to these alien invaders. “Water hyacinth is originally from South America, so South Africa is an enemy-free space for it,” Hill said.
Hill’s research led him to discover a natural enemy from South America which he hoped to introduce into South African water. The insects were brought in and quarantined at Rhodes, where the team ran trials to determine their effectiveness. A tunnel has been built in Grahamstown where disabled workers from the local community rear the insects. They are then flown to beleaguered bodies of water. Due to Hill’s work in Lake Victoria, the lake has been clear of weeds for five years. Postdoctoral fellow Dr Jackie Hill is working on water hyacinth research in conjunction with Hill. She is focused on fighting from the bottom up. “I track the nitrogen levels and aim to
remove the nutrients that cause the weed to grow in the first place,” she explained There is a lot of interest in both facets of the research so far and as it spreads to more countries and more students become involved in it, Martin Hill can only see the research growing further. “The important thing is that science is not restricted to journal articles. It must be implemented in the outside world,” Hill said. Pests will always be a problem for the horticultural industry but through innovative research the beauty and intricacy of nature can be used to control this war of the species more effectively and with far less collateral damage.
Linking business and science for the good of Grahamstown’s water
By Zama Mncube Environment
espite its relatively small size, Rhodes University has a reputation for producing exceptional research. Now the university is linking two normally separate concepts in its newly launched Environmental and Natural Resource Economics Research Programme. This endeavour looks set to maintain Rhodes’ glowing reputation. According to Economics professor and one of the founders of the new programme Jen Snowball, 20 applications were received from students, but limited funding necessitated a selection process. “Students were chosen based on their academic record and how well their proposal fitted in to our ideas about the research focus area,” she said. There are various criteria that applicants must
meet. Economics professor and co-founder of the programme Gavin Fraser added that for students to be eligible for the programme they must be at either PhD or Masters level. There are three full-time PhD and three fulltime Masters students currently in the research programme, and according to Snowball they are expected to comply with all rules that apply to Masters and PhD students at Rhodes. This includes attending weekly meetings to report on their research progress to their supervisors. “The difference is this is not a course, but a research programme, so no teaching takes place during the research,” explained Snowball. Students are given funds and the necessary resources, and are left to do the research. “Tuition fees for all students are paid by the programme. The focus area funds field-work costs and other research-related expenses, such as attending local conferences,” said Snowball. However, she added that, based on their home situation, some students are offered bursaries to
help with daily essentials like food and transport. Thanks to the specific environmental factors of the Eastern Cape, the founders of the programme could not have chosen a better province to concentrate on. Rhodes’ home turf boasts one of the three globally recognised South African biodiversity hot-spots: the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Centre of Endemism. The Eastern Cape is also an intensely water criticalarea and since Rhodes aims to become the leading centre for water research in Africa, it is appropriate that a larger portion of research done by the students concentrates on waterrelated issues. Research projects are not limited to water, however. “Students are free to choose projects [in the focus area] which interest them,” said Snowball, citing a number of examples. “Current topics include issues like the economic impact of recreational fishing in South Africa, which will also analyse related
institutions and policy implications. A separate area covers the water footprint analysis of the citrus industry in the Sundays River Valley, investigating the economics of using bio-control to manage alien invasive plants,” she said. News about this research programme has ignited some excitement among economics students. Not only will it increase postgraduate numbers in the Economics Department, it also aims to find solutions for water-related issues in the Eastern Cape. In the long run, this will also benefit the provincial economy. “I think it’s a good initiative,” said student Siviwe Mawawa Mnqovu. “Lack of water has economic implications for Grahamstown and South Africa as a whole, and is a major impact on the productive capacity of the country. This programme is a platform to find ways to reduce some of the challenges our economy is facing as result of water shortages.”
An unholy affair?
Words by Kyla Hazell celebrated primarily in India and Nepal, but also widely observed in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Though the outdoor event which saw the Mother City covered in multicolored Gulal powder is really an offshoot of a German electronica colour party, organisers do not deny the influence of the religious holiday on their event. “The Indian Holi Festival is a day steeped in the old tradition of bringing people together in love and peace, a tradition that transcends backgrounds and cultures. It is this ethos that the HOLI ONE Colour Festival was inspired by,” said Manuela de Deus, Sponsorship Director for events planning company, One-Eyed Jack, who worked together with Seed Experiences to make the HOLI ONE Cape Town a reality. “We’ve continuously promoted a spirit of camaraderie and togetherness in the ‘We Are All One’ philosophy, something that we feel is very relevant and necessary to the South African psyche,” de Deus said. While Manilal agrees with the idea of HOLI ONE spreading the celebration to people of all cultures and religions, she remains concerned about the connection between Holi and the consumption of alcohol and the potential use of drugs, widely associated with large outdoor festivals. “I think this is unacceptable. It is an insult to the festival and in this way the festival loses its value. People would forget about coming together as one and many ugly situations can take place when people are drunk, such as fights,” Manilal said. De Deus explained the festival organisers’ decision to have alcohol at the event by stating that the crucial point is that HOLI ONE is not a religious festival. “If it was a religious festival it might be a very different story,” she said. De Deus also said that Hinduism as a religion is not conclusively against the consumption of alcohol, noting also that this festival is being held in a country where a drinking culture does exist. Student Jacqui Pinto, who attended the festival in Cape Town, felt that the event, though inspired by Holi, was very divorced from the religious aspects of the holiday. “They never really spoke about or made any reference to the religious festival except to say that this was the inspiration. I feel that it did not attempt to be rude or offensive, but merely provided people with a good time in a manner inspired by a religious event,” Pinto said. “We all need a bit of colour in our lives from time to time and a day that you are encouraged to dress in white and chase your friends, pelting them with coloured powder is good, clean, exhilarating fun. Good for the heart and soul,” de Deus concluded. HOLI ONE Johannesburg will take place on the 6 April 2013. louds of colour filled the air at the Cape Town Grand Parade on Saturday 2 March 2013 for the first ever HOLI ONE Colour Festival to be held in South Africa. Now a global outdoor extravaganza, HOLI ONE is driven by an ethos of togetherness and celebration and takes its inspiration from the Hindu festival by the same name. Though many Rhodes students made the trip down-country to join in the festivities, some have concerns about the commercialisation of a traditionally religious holiday and worry particularly about the availability of alcohol at the event. “The idea of alcohol sales during this festival defeats the purpose of everyone uniting and the promotion of togetherness,” said Secretary of the Rhodes Hindu Students’ Society (HSS) Maxime Pillay. “I believe that this practice does not fit in at all with the HOLI ONE Festival. If the festival is to be celebrated on a large scale then preventative measures on a large scale should be taken together with the celebration,” she said. That being said, Pillay does not think there is necessarily a problem with the internationalisation of what she describes as the most exciting of Hindu festivals. President of HSS Gitika Manilal, agrees with her about this. “I think it is appropriate because people of different cultures would be able to celebrate this festival and learn about it as well,” Manilal said. Holi is traditionally a spring festival of colour,
Photo: Charne Penfold
The Holi Festival on 2 March 2013 painted Cape Town colourful and will make its way to Johannesburg on 6 April 2013. Photo: NICOLA POULOS
The Oppidan Press 28 1 February August 2012 2013
New society opens doors to students
AIESEC offers international leadership training and internship placement
Words by Kyla Hazell
new opportunity for travel is now available to Rhodes University students this year thanks to the addition of new campus society, AIESEC. Taking its acronym from the French Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales (a full name no longer used), the society claims to be the biggest student-driven organisation there is. AIESEC is an international non-profit organisation that offers students opportunities to undertake leadership training and internship placements around the world. Chairperson Lowell Scarr said that the main focus of the society is on the development of leadership skills and mutual understanding among students through cultural exchange. Today, the organisation is responsible for thousands of international short- and long-term placements annually, fancying itself a catalyst for student exploration and growth. This is where Rhodes students will now have the chance to become involved. “As an Exchange Facilitator, we will assist students in finding a suitable international internship in any partnering country (over 110 of them),” said society ViceChairperson Selokwane Morake of the committee’s work. “We will assist in passport and VISA applications as well as culture-shock training for the particular country,” he continued. Rhodes is the ninth South African university to set up an AIESEC Local Chapter, joining already established offices at the University of Cape Town (UCT), Stellenbosch University and the University of Pretoria, among others. Scarr explained that Rhodes had an AIESEC society in the past, but that it fell away due to poor management. The current team is trying to re-establish the Local Chapter after being approached by AIESEC South Africa’s Johannesburg-based head office. “Since we’re only starting up, AIESEC NMMU, Stellenbosch and UCT have offered to partner up with AIESEC Rhodes, in terms of sending their members through to carry out specialist training for every student who will be going out for an internship by the end of the
year,” Morake said. “So we’re really aiming on giving Rhodes students high-quality training topped off with a high-quality international internship.” At the moment, the committee is looking for endorsement from the university and the Student Representative Council (SRC), as well as from potential external sponsors, while at the same time recruiting students to participate in the internships programme. “We are not looking to become yet another society that you sign up for at the beginning of the year and then don’t hear from again. We are open to everyone to make use of, especially third, fourth, or fifth year students who are looking to start work and would like to get overseas,” said Scarr. AIESEC will also be facilitating events which will focus on personal and leadership development and attempting to link similarly orientated societies together to increase the overall effectiveness of their aims. “Our mission is to empower students through leadership development in actual experience,” Morake explained. “We offer a platform for students to unleash and grow their leadership potential.” “These are really good opportunities for students to gain worldview perspectives while they are still studying in order for them to become effective leaders that are able to bring about progress in their countries,” Morake continued. Scarr said that while it is not easy to start a new society, the nowestablished committee is strong and hopes to send at least five Rhodes students on international internships this year. “AIESEC opens up opportunities for travel to other countries (including those in Africa) as well as work experience in these places, which is invaluable going forward as a professional. We are open to all and want to help students improve themselves with a long-term view of a positive impact on South African society,” said Scarr.
Bainskloof is a beautiful destination for all students. Photos: BIANCA LEVIN
The wonders of Bainskloof
Between Wellington and Ceres, the Boland Mountains hold a magnificent place called Bainskloof. Here one can find beautiful waterfalls, natural springs and a great camping site where students can kick back and relax under the sun and stars. The campsite is called the Tweede Tol Campsite. It is just off the R301 onto Bainskloof pass. There are 26 different sites and places to braai available. The fee per site is R175.00, but it is worth every cent. Blainskloof is an entertaining place for the adventurous type. One of the trails leads you past natural pools and finally onto a magnificent waterfall. Many people bring lilos and tubes and float down the river, creating a mini rafting experience as they go. There are many more hiking trails, but it can also be a lot of fun just to make your own trail and then come back later for a swim. The water is crystal clear and freezing cold, and on a hot summer’s day there is nothing better to do than lie around in the shallow pools or play in the waterfalls. The best part of Bainskloof is hiking up the river. You pass by at least three waterfalls, two of which are deep enough to jump off from heights of two to four metres. What makes Bainskloof so intriguing is that it has remained virtually unaltered since its original creation in 1853. There is very little damage to the area and it is extremely clean. A nice bonus is that there are bathrooms and showers. Bainskloof is only one and a half hours outside of Cape Town, so if you are going to be near that area during your holidays, you should definitely take the time to go and see it. It is one
Words by Biana Levin
Anyone interested in learning more can contact AIESEC at Rhodes. firstname.lastname@example.org or search for them on Facebook at AIESEC Rhodes.
of nature’s hidden treasures and is great to experience with your friends. Just make sure that you have someone with you who knows how to set up a tent. If you are not the camping type, then you can go to Bainskloof for a day’s visit. It is still a wonderful place to spend the day jumping off waterfalls and braaing with friends. In order to get to Blainskloof you take the Wellington turn-off on the N1. Drive about 20km until you reach Wellington. By the third robot you turn left into Piet Retief Street. A right at the next robot into Church Street will bring you to Bainskloof Pass towards Worcester. On the left will be Tweede Tol, about 16km from Bainskloof pass. Be prepared, this part of the drive has a steep drop and if not driven with care it can be quite dangerous. Be vigilant.
128 February August 2013 2012
The Oppidan Press
Budget busting travel tips
Words by Ashley Brown
ravelling around the world is not the cheapest endeavour, especially when travelling to Europe. But fear not, there is a way to travel on a relatively inexpensive budget. Earlier this year in January, I went to Ireland for 10 days to celebrate my 21st birthday the Irish way – with lots of Guinness and potatoes. I had saved my meagre-student-amount of pocket money for almost two years before I started planning and paying for the trip. My trip did not work out to be as expensive as I thought it would have been. I had saved R15 000 over two years from odd jobs and pocket money collection. I thought that all of that would be gone before I had even landed in Dublin. But with some clever planning and help from people who had travelled before, I managed to cut costs and save money. So this is where the budgetbusting tips come in. I have three handy tips to share when you are trying to plan your overseas travels. Do not travel during peak season: during any holiday period or, if going to the Northern Hemisphere, during their summer time. Prices are marked up because tourist destinations know that people will pay. It is the only time that most working class citizens can travel. Take advantage of our long holidays. January and February are great times to go and if you are lucky, you will catch the snow. I went from 9-19 January, just after the schools both here and there had gone back. That meant that a lot of the prices in Ireland were a lot cheaper, as most of the seasonal tourists had left. Try not to go to the typical places. I know that Paris sounds alluring and going to the Big Apple sounds
like an adventure waiting to be had, but there is a whole other world to see out there. I did go to Dublin, which is a major city, but I also went to many small towns around the Southern Irish coast which are hardly ever mentioned. Do not always look at the major travel guides, which tell you that London is the best place to go. Why not browse the Internet and find somewhere off of the beaten track with just as much to offer? It is relatively easy to travel around if you are going to Europe, so getting to destinations is not difficult. Shop around. My return tickets leaving from Port Elizabeth to Dublin via Frankfurt only came to R9250 with Lufthansa. I shopped around for weeks trying to get the best deal possible. Normally if you find a certain deal with one tourism office, another will try to match it. Play bargain hunter. This also applies to hotels. Do not be afraid to stay in a youth hostel if you are going to Europe. I paid about €8 (that worked out at about R96) a night including breakfast in Dublin. That meant that I had more money to spend on shopping – which, in Dublin, was amazing. There are plenty of specials on offer when planning your overseas trip. Give yourself ample time to find out where the best deals can be made, where you want to go and what there is to do there. That way you will know how much money you will need to take with you. Do not forget that the Rand is relatively weak compared to most overseas currencies, so things will naturally be a bit more expensive for us. Travelling does not have to drain your bank account. You can see the world and still have enough left over to spare.
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Ireland is one of the many overseas destinations that one can travel to on a budget. Photos: ASHLEIGH BROWN
The long walk through history and a little extra
Take history out of the classroom and get some fresh air as you learn about how this small town came to be. There are various walking tours to be taken around Grahamstown. If you have some spare time in your day and want to learn more about the small town you live in, give one of these a go. Each walk lasts about an hour and a half and is conducted at a leisurely pace. According to the Makana Tourism Office, you will also be accompanied by a guide in full Victorian dress. There are three different walking tours on offer: The “Saints, Sinners and Students” tour looks at the early history of
Words by Ashley Brown
Grahamstown. This tour visits St Anne’s chapel, two jails as well as Rhodes University itself. The “Stately Homes and Old School Ties” tour goes to two of the oldest schools in the area: St Andrew’s College, and DSG (Diocesan School for Girls). This tour visits a number of Victorian homes that were designed by an amateur architect in various strange but interesting styles. It also includes the oldest working postbox in South Africa on Worcester Street. Last but not least, the “Historic Heart” tour visits the centre of Grahamstown and leaves from the Observatory Museum. This tour looks at the growth of Grahamstown from a military site to a thriving city
Each walk lasts about an hour and a half and is conducted at a leisurely pace
(Grahamstown used to be the second largest city in the Cape Colony after Cape Town). So take a moment, or a tour, to learn and appreciate this wonderful historic town you now call home.
For brochures, maps and information on Grahamstown Frontier Country
Accredited tour guides
Gill Wylie – City, farm and township tours. Cell 082 832 5839. Email email@example.com Mbuleli Mpokela – Local and regional guide. Cell 082 979 5906. Email firstname.lastname@example.org Otto Ntshebe – Ottours for city and township tours. Cell 082 214 4242. Email email@example.com.
The Oppidan Press 19 March 2013
The institutions which exist within a university may be seen, in many regards, as microcosms of the institutions which exist in society at large. The Student Representative Council (SRC), as the governing body of students at Rhodes University may equate, on a larger scale, to the governance structures which reign over our country. Society is highly premised upon the creation of positive perception, which in many ways acts as a burden. What is done within the framework of an institution is as significant to the public as what is done outside of it. The role of the media in this milieu is multi-faceted. At its core, journalism is something which investigates and exposes, which informs the public. Yet journalism and journalists are equally concerned with responsibility, not only towards public information but also to facilitating debate and to improving the social sphere in which we all exist and which allows the media to exist. The Oppidan Press has, over the past few weeks, widely covered matters regarding the Student Representative Council, exploring concerns such as the resignations of a number of councillors, the problematic functioning of the SRC Facebook page and the tensions arising with regard to certain Councillors on the SRC. The coverage that The Oppidan Press has done regarding the SRC is of the utmost importance. It speaks to the monitorial role of journalism as an investigator and informer. The effect of coverage such as this is, with the exception of informing, is that is creates awareness, not only among the public but within the journalistic institution itself. It brings to the surface not only the issues facing student governance at Rhodes University but also the attitudes of the student population toward structures of governance and perhaps even a tendency on the part of media organizations such as ours to be adversarial as our default response. Freedom of speech is one of the greatest assets to South African society and as a media institution, The Oppidan Press takes every opportunity to exercise this right. However, as an institution also striving toward the betterment of student society it is necessary to question the attitudes within the society, especially when considering student governance. South African President Jacob Zuma cannot escape yawning in a meeting without the media insinuating that he is ‘bored’ and yet, as individuals, we are often very quick to judge and very slow to understand. That maybe, just maybe, he is yawning because he runs a country and maybe it isn't as easy as one might imagine. This attitude, of individuals to criticise the institutions by which they are governed, is as important as it is problematic. Attitude forms the basis of any journalistic organization. The role of watchdog journalism is as crucial in society as the journalist who is socially responsible. As a media organisation The Oppidan Press continually has to tread a thin line between achieving information dissemination and accountability as well as adopting an approach which highlights institutional and societal progress where it emerges. Although this is difficult in the face of structural problems which seem to plague our institutions on an almost daily basis. However, with this balance in mind, it is hoped that journalists, students and wider society will help convert positive narratives into positive realities.
Seeking to transform education
ublic education in Grahamstown is characterised by both generalised weakness and deep inequalities. The weakness is measured and evidenced in relation to all the usual indicators, such as literacy levels, drop-out/ push rates and matriculation statistics. Over 1000 young Grahamstonians enter the public schooling system every year,but only about 350 emerge twelve years later with a National Senior Certificate. Even worse; under 200 students meet the standard required to study towards a university degree. Key educational indicators declined markedly in 2012 when compared with those from 2011. In 2011 the local public sector produced 405 successful matriculants, whilst in 2012 this number declined to 356. Worse still; in 2011, 182 local Grade 12 learners performed well enough to be eligible to go Rhodes or other universities, whereas the class of 2012 only boasted 154 amongst their ranks who qualify for consideration by universities, representing an 18% year-on-year decline. Not only did our city experience a major decline of performance in 2012, it also saw educational inequalities grow. In 2011 the eight township schools produced 60% of the NSCs and 29% of the University-level passes, with the three former ‘Model C’ schools producing 40% of the passes and 71% of the University passes. In 2012, the eight township schools, which serviced the vast majority of the city’s matriculants, produced a mere 24% of university passes. None of these schools were able to produce a distinction in Mathematics and there was a lone distinction in Physical Science. This decline is both tragic and inexcusable and the poor performance of the township schools is cause for both concern and action. GADRA Education is one of a number of organisations in Grahamstown that regards the situation in public sector education as unacceptable and intolerable. In an attempt to transform local education, GADRA implements two strategies, namely direct service delivery and advocacy. The organisation delivers four educational services, namely literacy support to all Foundation Phase (Grades R to 3) in all isiXhosa medium public schools in Grahamstown, a Commercial Centre that offers vocational training, the well-known Matric School (GMS) that enables a class of 130 students the opportunity to upgrade their results in selected subjects, and a bursary programme for deserving, underprivileged students at Rhodes University and other tertiary learning institutions. The organisation decided to use its service delivery base as a launch-pad into the advocacy realm of public sector transformation. Simply put, the organisation now uses its four services as the basis to effect change in the public
schooling system, at both primary and high school level. It does this from the premise that the fundamental reason that public schooling in Grahamstown is failing is a lack of accountability. The District Office of the Department of Basic Education fails to account to local schools, and schools do not account adequately to parents. The advocacy strategy of GADRA Education is therefore to strengthen the capacity of school managers (Principals) and to empower parents. If accountability increases, educational outcomes will improve. The most undervalued resource in Grahamstown are the students of Rhodes University. Cumulatively, they hold vast amounts of intellectual and social capital. This is the reason that GADRA Education implements important components of work through student volunteers. More specifically, the organisation harnesses voluntary capacity in its advocacy work with the City’s parents and its education work with GMS students. Rhodes volunteers both tutor and mentor GMS students. To date in 2013, over 40 Rhodes students have thus far committed themselves to undertaking this exciting and important work. Those who participate benefit from gaining novel perspectives, developing their levels of empathy, learning new skills and being exposed to fresh experiences. Ashley Westaway is the GADRA Education Manager
Meaningful debate, or page rage?
By Matthew de Klerk “You people discuss nothing of any relevance 95% of the time.” I stare at the comment on the infamous Student Representative Council (SRC) Facebook page, and think that perhaps the commentator has a point. After all, since its creation by the SRC in early 2012, the page has become a veritable Frankenstein’s monster: a hideous disfigurement of its intended purpose, scarred by personal vendettas and twisted by student advertisement, where actual SRC members don’t dare to tread – and when they do, it is very lightly indeed. Unless you are one of the many people looking to buy a “Basic Econometrics Textbook 5th Ed in Excellent Condition”, interested in promotion work in Grahamstown, looking for a digs to move in with “A Male Third Year Student Preferably”, or read a certain blog (guilty as charged), you’re not going to find a whole lot of meaningful debate on the page. Calls for “meaningful debate” are often seen on the page. They are dotted amongst the intense comment flame-wars here and there, and squeezed in between advertisments for cheap pancakes and loans from French companies. On a side note, it is important to realise that the page was never intended to be a space for so-called “meaningful debate”, but rather a channel of communication between the SRC and student body. However, that is beside the point. The main issue is that “meaningful debate” is the furthest thing from peoples’ minds on that page. Sure, there are one or two individuals who want the space used to instigate dialogues between students who, for the better part, will never speak face-to-face. And yes, there are one or two issues that pop up once in a blue moon (or even more rarely than that) that have level-headed, adult discussions. But for most it’s a cheap form of entertainment: a place for the some 2300 non-commenting page members and popcorn-eaters watching from the wings to fully enjoy a few laughs from the comfort of their residence rooms. The proof is in the pudding: post about the name-change debate (a relevant, meaningful topic if there ever was one in Grahamstown) and there are two comments and two likes; ask the members what their thoughts are about the SRC’s primary focus on education during Human Rights Week, and you won’t even crack the one comment mark. However, post anything regarding the Pink Lady and there will be scrolling and trolling for hours. In fact, the only reason last years’ SRC Grazzle was fully packed was because of the possibility of entertainment from said Pink Lady. “I’ll bring the popcorn,” to quote one comment. If people so desperately want “meaningful debate”, then why has the page deteriorated to its current form? After all, students are the ones who post in it – we should claim responsibility to some degree. Why are student body meetings so poorly attended all the time? Why are SRC Grazzles - the only place where a candidate is more than just a pretty poster backed by unlimited printing credit and where a voter can actually ask them what they will realistically achieve if they win office – only half-full-GLT affairs? Why were the numbers for last year’s Silent Protest campaign only around 1500, less than a mere 25% of Rhodes students? I won’t resort to that much-loved and thoroughly beaten scapegoat, ‘student apathy’. It plays a role, but it certainly transcends this. Perhaps people like the idea of meaningful debate more than meaningful debate itself. Standing out and saying ‘you guize speak such a timewasting bunch of nonsense u ppl make me vomit’ is not only ironic but also sadly understandable. It makes us feel intelligent, compassionate, and socially-minded beyond the walls of Rhodes. If you don’t believe this, check the comments section of any poaching post on Facebook or of any racially-charged article on News24. Besides, how much level-headed “meaningful debate” can we get done on a page whose members prefer the ad hominem approach and show a contemptuous distaste for “big words” and being able to argue in clean, grammatically correct English? And so, if you want debate, perhaps you should close your laptop lid and look elsewhere. Maybe even sign up for a cause and do some meaningful protest. Otherwise, sit back, enjoy the show and don’t forget the popcorn.
The Oppidan Press staff and contact details
Editor: Kirsten Makin. Deputy Editor: Binwe Adebayo. Managing Editor: Jamie Bezuidenhout. Advertising Manager: Matthew Barbosa. Online Editor: Tyson Ngubeni. Assistant Online Editor: Stuart Lewis. Webmaster: Thandile Pambuka. News Features Editor: Tegan Scales. Environment Editor: Jordan du Toit. Politics Editor: Tarryn de Kock. Assistant Politics Editor: Emily Corke. Acting Arts & Entertainment Editor: Jessica van Tonder. Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor: Dirk Steynberg. SciTech Editor: Lethabo Ntshudisane. Business Editor: Mudiwa Gavaza. Travel Editor: Ashleigh Brown. Assistant Travel Editor: Kyla Hazell. Sports Editor: Andrew Tombs. Chief Photo Editors: Josh Oates, Robynne Peatfield. Assistant Chief Photo Editor: Michelle Cunliffe. Chief Sub-Editors: KateLyn Moore, Matthew de Klerk, Lucy Holford-Walker. Sub-Editors: Kaitlin Cunningham, Amanda Murimba, Fabio De Dominics, Alexa Sedgwick. Chief Designer: Chevawn Blum. Senior Designers: Aimee de la Harpe, Jehan Ara Khonat, Dale Scogings. Illustrator: Amy Slatem. Advertising Representatives: Alexia Faris, Aimee Fanton, Gino Absai, Lauren Hill, Mickey Dorfling, Nhlamulo Nkanyangi, Tinashe Jani, Tumelo Thudinyane. Community Engagement Officers: Kyla Hazell, Nica Cornell. Letters to the Editor: firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising details: email@example.com www.oppidanpress.com www.facebook.com/theoppidanpress www.twitter.com/oppidanpress The Oppidan Press publishes letters that are bona fide expressions of opinion as long as they are not clearly libellous, defamatory, racist or sexist. We publish anonymous letters, but as an act of good faith in your part, we require your full name. We reserve the right to shorten letters due to space constraints and to edit them for grammatical inaccuracies. Letters that do not make it into our print edition will be published on our website.
Photo: Joshua Oates
19 March 2013 The Oppidan Press
Getting to know the local fauna and flora
By Sibella Louw Environment hodes is known as a transient university. The majority of the student population calls another province home, which means that many students do not know what is special about the Eastern Cape, such as its fauna and flora. Rhodes’ campus is noticeably full of trees and flowers and there are always molehills to be seen on the lawns. However most students have no idea they may be casually strolling past a plant or animal that they have never seen before. To the dismay of many students, a snake camouflaged in the grass is one of the more commonly sighted wild animals in Grahamstown. The most common varieties are the spotted bush and brown house snakes, which are completely harmless to humans. However, there are also night- and puffadders, which are extremely venomous and should be carefully avoided. There is no need to harm snakes when encountering them - just leave them be. Moles are also a much more common occurrence than many people realise – and they do more than sleep underground. The most common variety found in Grahamstown is the Cape golden mole. “Moles can very rarely be seen, as they spend most of their time underground, but they will come out after or during heavy rain,” said lecturer in the Zoology Department Professor Dan Parker. The biggest threat to all the small and undomesticated animals is cats. “There is a clear link between a loss of natural diversity and the abundance of domestic cats,” said Parker. However, there is a project in the works which could provide a partial remedy for this. According to Chairperson of the Rhodes society RU Green, Ruth Krüger, the Phoenix Project aims to sterilise the stray animal population. This will curb the losses of small wild animals.
Grahamstown property market: Reached its peak?
Residence Operations, the number of Oppidan students stands at 4278. With the current number of students living in off-campus accommodation at such a high level and the likelihood of this figure only increasing due to expanding postgraduate numbers, it goes to show why there has been a surge in the building of these apartments. “There has been a significant demand in residential property in Grahamstown, an unforeseen fact for a modest town,” said Cape regional executive for Nedbank’s Corporate Property Finance, Richard Thomas. After recognising the opportunity for new development, their clients Thornbird Trade and Invest 55 gave them another opportunity to provide funding and convert their development into a successful venture. This is one of the few property establishments in Grahamstown. Their holdings include Lindisfarne, Somerset Corner, Summer Place, Aquitaine Way, Kingsview Estate, and Kings Gardens. Despite this boom in the industry, some developers and investors like Muller and Schlebusch forecast that residential property in Grahamstown has reached its peak. Besides the key target market of Rhodes students, a small capital market comprising of largely middle to upper-class residents exists in the town. Rhodes University itself has a permanent staff composition of approximately 1300 people. Leasing apartments that are closer to campus is more convenient and there is a significant demand for these. Rhodes staff member Sasha Hofman, who rents a flat at Third on Milner, remarked on how the, “safe and secure parking, en-suite bathrooms and short distance to town and campus is a convenience that should not be overlooked”. Senior Economics Professor Niki Cottaneo believes that there has always been a shortage of student accommodation in Grahamstown. “The location for the construction of the high-rise buildings is also a pivotal factor. A building of this magnitude would require a more dense area to construct it on,” she said, adding that the new buildings would have to be balanced with the older architecture and the Victorian scene of the town. According to Cottaneo, proximity to retail outlets, medical facilities, schools and flat land are some of the main reasons why all the buildings seem to be going up in the same areas. She also touched on the historical and aesthetic factors concerning all the buildings that are being erected at the moment. “The Grahamstown property market still seems to be in the process of transformation,” she said, adding that it remained to be seen whether developers would receive their anticipated return on investment, whether demand for student housing would stay at its elevated level, and whether or not the the property market would be able to maintain its current momentum. For now, all we can do is enjoy the modern touch offered by these new buildings and the progress they continue to bring to Grahamstown.
The Hub on African Street is one of the newest block of flats in town, and is home to many students. Photo: Joshua Oates By Timothy Rangongo Business he boom in the construction of high-rise buildings in Grahamstown is surprisingly not for the housing of new businesses in Grahamstown. Instead, these are residential buildings. According to local property developer Louis Schlebusch, property developments in Grahamstown provide a good return on the investment triggered by the increasing number of students who are interested in leasing flats. The question then is just how many students are there that can justify the development of so many high-rise apartment complexes? Property developers, such as Pieter Muller, share Schlebusch’s sentiments, saying that there is an increasing demand for accommodation in Grahamstown, especially from students - the prime target for developers. Real estate developers and agents estimate a growth in the potential digs market of 7%. According to the University’s Institutional Planning Unit’s enrolment plan for 2011-2013, the student population for 2013 was forecast at 7645. This is considered an interim figure since more postgraduate registrations are anticipated in the future. SRC Secretary-General Mathaabe Thabane puts the number of students currently in residence at 3367. Based on preliminary statistics from
With regard to common flora, two vibrant trees in particular provide much of campus with shade. “The wild plum and the coral tree are probably the most common indigenous trees on campus, but it’s difficult to pin down which type has precisely the most numbers,” said Tony Dold of the Botany Department. There are also many exotic trees on campus, such as the oak, the iconic Jacaranda, pine trees and gum trees. There are even some plants which can assist residence students who are subjected to the misfortune of having lectures during lunchtime. According to Dold, the exotic imifino plants (types of wild vegetables) are often collected in-season for food. “The wild plum has edible fruits too and there are a number of Kei apple trees around town,” he said. It is important, however, to realise that certain plants can also be poisonous. “There are a number of indigenous acokanthera trees – otherwise known as Bushman's Poison – that are very poisonous. A common alien tree in town is the syringa, which has very toxic berries. Cycad seeds are also poisonous,” said Dold. There are no telltale signs of a deadly plant, so students with little plant knowledge are advised rather to leave all plants alone. There are also quite a few endangered plants on campus which are obviously not meant to be plucked as an in between-lecture snack. One example is lachenalia convallarioides. “[There are] only a handful of these plants at this spot and nowhere else in the world,” said Dold. The faucaria tigrina is another example. “One of the four remaining existing populations is under threat with the proposed developments at the golf course and another by a formal housing development,” said Dold. If you are one of the travelling students here, stop, take a look around you and appreciate what you see in one of the most biologically diverse and beautiful provinces.
The cone of a cycad. Photo: JOSHUA OATES
Arts & Entertainment
By Charles Mackenzie and Loyiso Gxothiwe ‘Coming Clean’ is a phrase that might mean a range of different things to different people. From 1 March, however, this phrase was undoubtedly associated with the entrancing exhibition of Rhodes Fine Art Graduate Cassandra Wilmot. When walking into the ‘Coming Clean’ exhibition, there is an obvious and almost clinical disparity between the different pieces on display. Wilmot described her work as “both detachedly scientific and sincerely intimate” in her introduction, stating that the exhibition deals heavily with themes of loss, memory and narrative inheritance. The exhibition forces the observer to walk great distances between the displays, illustrating the distinction of each piece. Fine Art student Michael Kruger described the display saying, “It is just as successful as the works themselves.” Using representations of the ritual domestic process of laundry, the entire exhibition scrutinises how the acts of washing, bleaching and ironing clothing (which the artist refers to as “traces”), affect both remembrance and the ritual of loss. This is done in a range of different media, from etchings and monotypes to photographic prints and readymade objects. Strengthening the themes of the exhibition are the various displays of built-up lint spread across the entire space - a poignant allusion to the ritual of cleaning spread over time. The exhibition includes a large display of four digital prints that demonstrate the desperate rituals involved with cleaning. The print imitates X-rays that beautifully depict the ‘bones’ of the inanimate objects involved in the process of washing. The objects are thereby given human qualities. Broken down to just the bare essentials, they give the viewer the opportunity to see through the artist’s eyes and from the perspective of someone affected by loss. The exhibition was a success. With its dark themes of death and loss, presented in a thought-provoking and moving manner, the artist’s work stuck true to its aim, leaving the viewer in a stare of reflection.
The Oppidan Press 19 March 2013
Cassandra Wilmot’s exhibition ‘Coming Clean’ was open for viewing in the Albany Museum from 1 March 2013 to 9 March 2013. Photo: FRANCES SOLOMON
Surviving Splashy Fen
By Binwe Adebayo et in the picturesque landscape of KwaZulu-Natal’s Underberg Mountains, The Splashy Fen Music Festival may conjure up images of tidy picnics and quaint audiences sitting on perfectly mowed lawns. This is not the case. Instead there are sprawling camp sites, littered with luggage and bodies and in 2010, there was even a Facebook group entitled “I survived the toilets at Splashy”. However, this should in no way be a deterrent for anyone interested in going to the festival. Thousands have flocked together from across the country to experience just what has been described and for 23 years audiences have been treated to a unique outdoor music experience. For those interested in going to the five day festival, The Oppidan Press has put together a few useful tips to help gain the most out of the Splashy Fen Festival experience, with minimal collateral damage. Having already alluded to the fact that pristine hygiene is not the highest priority in the minds of Splashy veterans, there are a few ways for the germ-conscious to stay clean for the duration of the festival. While traditionalists generally spend their days au naturale, the festival does provide shower services at a nominal cost. The showers are generally clean and hot water is provided. However, if the notion of communal showers doesn’t seem enticing, outlets such as Cape Union Mart do sell individual solar-powered shower bags, although the price tag is not as friendly as the shower experience. For those who prefer an entirely nature-based experience, there is a river on the plot which doubles as a swimming pool and bath tub. Alternatively, hygiene wipes are a cheap and easy way to keep clean. With the expense of cleaning out of the way, it is incredibly easy to find other ways to spend money. While a tattoo of your festival fling’s name may seem like a good idea at the time, the price of getting a tattoo at Splashy can be incredibly high. There are airbrush tattoo stalls available, for a commitment as temporary as the ones made after a night of heavy drinking. Tattoos aside, the market village provides an array of culinary and craft treats, even for those with very little cash to dole out. Vendors are often fairly open to negotiation so it may be worthwhile to barter where it is possible. When it comes to food, the variety extends from Café Pronto for that much needed morning cup of coffee to Chip ‘n Dip for a post-gig snack. However, it may be wise to stock up on food at home. Ready-made meals and easy snacks in a cooler box make for easy storage, consumption and disposal. In terms of alcohol, the beer tent provides good quality beer and fruit coolers on tap, but if you’re looking for something a little stronger, it is certainly cheaper to come prepared. The festival does not allow glass bottles so decant your alcohol into individual bottles (the smaller the units the better - otherwise it is very easy to run out two days in). Splashy Fen is an incredible place to meet a lot of interesting people and see a lot of great things. However, as is always the case, there are those interested in seeing and possibly keeping your belongings. While photographs of the event are an absolute must, possibly opt for a small digital camera with a wrist strap or perhaps even a disposable camera. Also, while a chic handbag may look trendy, it is certainly not practical rather opt for a backpack or if you’re even more security conscious, a moon bag is the safest and most efficient method. In all likelihood, the majority of the day will be spent near the stages or at various stalls, in which case the campsite is left unguarded. Locking tents, bags and even cooler bags is essential, and keeping one or two people around the site to ward off roaming people and occasionally animals is advisable. While all of these tips make Splashy Fen seem like wary ground to tread on, there is a reason that it is the longest running annual music festival in South Africa. The memories made are unforgettable and with these tips in mind, the experience should only be pleasurable. Full line-up available at OppiOnline. www.oppidanpress.com
Arts & Entertainment
19 March 2013 The Oppidan Press
Photo: CHELSEA KUNHART
Photo: CHELSEA KUNHART
Photo: CHELSEA KUNHART
Photo: CHELSEA KUNHART
14 The Oppidan Press 19 March 2013
By Tsungai Makoni and Tsitsi Mashingaidze SciTech he Sony Xperia T: it’s a beautiful piece of technology. The Xperia T is best known by James Bond fans as 007’s trusty handheld in the latest movie installment, Skyfall. When you open the box, the phone’s glossy finish and modern design - good enough for Bond himself - is immediately eye-catching. With a 4.6 inch 1080p HD screen, the Xperia’s lucky users will be dazzled by the phone’s visual capabilities. A screen of this size and detail is perfect for viewing pictures, videos and even reading lecture notes. The user interface is friendly and supports multitouch for up to four fingers. Sony claims that the screen has scratch-resistant and shatter-proof glass, but on the device we reviewed there seemed to be a few minor scratches. The Xperia T has a 13-megapixel camera with a number of features such as geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection and image stabilisation. It has an LED flash which also captures videos in stunning detail. The high-quality video recording is achieved through a combination of continuous autofocus and video stabilisation. Pictures from this device are good quality but tend to be a bit blurry when taken in
Licence to thrill (007)
particularly light areas. Student Arnold Ponela was impressed by the quality of the images taken by the phone. “I had definitely underestimated this phone,” he said. The ‘Bond phone’ offers classic smartphone functions such as 3G, Bluetooth and USB storage capabilities. It runs Android’s version 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are all integrated into the phone, and this allows for seamless push notifications from various social networks. Notifications and messages from social networks can be accessed through social network applications or the Android notification panel. Student Reginald Tsvetu thought the phone had a remarkable display. “It is easy to use and the quality of the phone’s graphics is very good,” he said. Students may also find the phone’s email application tool very useful. A feature that is prevalent in new smartphones, but which competing mobile giant Apple opted to exclude from their current range, is Near Field Communications (NFC). NFC is a short-range, low-power wireless link that transfers data between two devices with just one touch. Unlike Bluetooth, no pairing code is needed and because of its very low power consumption, virtually no battery-life is lost when using the feature. This technology might one day become ubiquitous to South Africa, especially in the communication market where technology is rapidly developing. However, we found nothing else to do with the device’s NFC function but to send pictures to other Android phones. The Xperia T only has a standard Lithium-ion 1850 mAh battery, which is smaller than the one found in Samsung’s flagship device, the Galaxy S3. After heavy use of the device and whilst running WiFi, the battery lasted about 5 hours. With standard use the battery lasted 8 to 10 hours. For a high-end device such as this, one would expect a better battery life. However, when it comes to music, the Xperia T is nothing short of spectacular. Sony has genuinely made a concerted effort to keep the walkman sound and quality alive in their phones. Music from the built-in speakers is a joy to the eardrums, offering nothing but pure, quality audio enjoyment. The sound is also consistent when it comes to watching videos on the phone. In terms of earphones or headphones, the sound from the Xperia aided by high-end headphones is better than the Galaxy S3 and almost comparable to Apple’s mobile devices. Overall, the phone is a good buy, with the ability to perform the kinds of tasks that users look for in all smartphones and other high-end devices. One of the few downfalls of this phone is its size, as some might prefer smaller phones which fit into their pockets. Also, the phone has only 16GB of internal memory - a fact which is mitigated by a standard SD card slot. All in all, this smartphone lives up to its hype, leaving us shaken, stirred and craving more.
The Oppidan Press gives the Sony Xperia T
Post-grad: the new bachelor’s degree?
By Raymond Ndhlovu Business Why do people pursue postgraduate studies degrees? Is it because they enjoy being in the university environment, or do they feel it will give them a competitive edge in a market already flooded by applicants with undergraduate qualifications? These are questions worth considering for those deciding whether or not to pursue a postgraduate degree. The South African schooling system, which has been the subject of much controversy since the matric results were released last year, leaves some students thinking that they need a higher-level qualification to stay abreast of the competition. “We only go up to matric level and then do undergraduate studies for three years, so for South Africans to be on par with people from other countries who do A-levels in high school, we must at least go up to Honours level,” said Microbiology Honours student Kamogelo Sepotokele. Sepotokele went on to say that she believed that a South African student with an Honours degree is basically the equivalent of an undergraduate degree for any other person from a country which offers A-levels. While some people believe that getting an undergraduate degree suffices, others insist on quite the opposite, believing that in order for one to be recognised in an industry they need to have at least gone through to Honours level. Some fields, such as Economics, require young job-seekers to have excelled all the way to postgraduate level before they can hope for some sort of employment. “When looking for a job in the market, Honours is the entry requirement while Masters is the preferred level,” said Economics Masters student Struan Robertson. Advertisements in newspapers or on Internet sites that advertise these jobs will normally list Honours as the minimum degree requirement, then have “Masters preferred” enclosed in brackets just afterwards. Such industries are dominated by skilled and highly qualified people. Robertson also noted that, “People who go into the market [and] then realis[e] they need to get higher qualifications usually miss out on the university experience when doing part-time studies or corresponding.” These people will tend to find that they have to juggle their work, private life and their degree. Another reason why some do not immediately enter the job market and prefer instead to build on their educational qualifications is that they feel that they are not yet ready to take on the world. Sociology Honours student Shamiso Madzivire noted that trends also play a major role in people’s general intention to pursue postgraduate studies. “People tend to do further studies to get better qualified. That is the norm and we often tend to follow or anticipate trends when it comes to careers and education. That’s how graduates try to differentiate themselves in a very competitive job market,” she said. The issue should not be generalised or viewed in isolation. However, it is clear that the minimum requirements for the majority of professions have increased quite substantially. This can be observed in the industry of computer science. South African universities, together with the relevant professional bodies, usually only consider
When looking for a job in the market, Honours is the entry requirement while Masters is the preferred level.
- Struan Robertson, Economics Masters student
The post graduate commons under the library. Photo: SOPHIE FOSTER
a person to be a computer scientist or information systems professional once that person has completed their Honours course in their chosen field. One other issue that often counters the urge to pursue postgraduate studies is that of being overqualified. Just as someone may not qualify for a particular job because their level of education is not high enough, many are turned away because their qualifications are rather too high. “Some industries have a set minimum salary for certain qualifications such as Masters. If you have a Masters degree, where a firm is looking someone with an Honours, they can easily refuse to hire the Masters graduate because they just cannot afford that person,” said Madzivire. So what will you do after your undergraduate studies? For some, the decision looms much closer than for others. Whatever decision you make, let it be a fully informed one.
19 March 2013 The Oppidan Press
Poaching of a different kind
Rhodes ensures that sport clubs don’t steal Grahamstown sporting talent
By Mthabisi Sithole hodes is undoubtedly a major part of the Grahamstown community and as such plays an integral role in the growth of the town. With over 25 sporting codes on offer and quality training facilities and staff, Rhodes is a great place for budding young athletes to hone their skills, especially for local residents. This is why some of the university’s clubs are open to accepting members of the community who want to get involved with the campus sports teams. In so doing however, one might argue that the clubs are weakening the town’s sporting activity by stealing its talent. The Sports Administration office insists however, that it is very strict with regards to who joins the campus clubs and under what conditions these individuals are allowed to do so. By ensuring that community clubs take first preference among nonRhodian athletes, Head of Sports Administration Mandla Gagayi feels that his office is encouraging the growth of competitive sport in Grahamstown. “The notion of taking players and athletes out of community clubs and letting them participate within our clubs is one we don’t agree with,” said Gagayi. “That kills sports in the town. We generally don’t allow non-student athletes to join our clubs unless there is no club in Grahamstown that offers the sport. We would rather refer the athletes to community clubs first before we take them in,” he added. In his correspondence with The Oppidan Press, Chairperson of the Table Tennis club Cyril Makwembere made reference to a Rhodes sports policy that aimed to protect clubs in Grahamstown. “When the Table Tennis (TT) Constitution was drawn up in 2011, it was made clear that we are only allowed to have an open membership as long as no other prominent Grahamstown TT club persists, this being Rhodes Sports policy. If that situation were to change then we would be obliged by Rhodes Sports policy to limit our membership to Rhodes students/ staff again,” he said. Other sporting clubs that allow community members onto their teams are the Rifle, Archery, Water Polo and Athletics clubs. Administrator for Athletics at Rhodes Siya Magopeni said that the applications for community members to join the team are much stricter than joining any other club. Some level of proficiency is required for one to join the athletics club. “We are normally reluctant to accept members who have not had some competitive experience in whatever event it is that they want to take part in. As a competitive club, we want people that will add value to our team,” Magopeni explained. The general consensus in the Sport Administration office is to not hinder the growth of sports in Grahamstown. Melissa Awu, a sports officer and official in charge of the Rifle club, sang the same tune as her colleagues. She explained how important it is for Rhodes sports clubs not to get in the way of the development of the town’s sports by poaching from the community. Grahamstown and Rhodes are more interconnected than most institutions and towns. This means that they feed off each other and the prosperity of one can be attributed to the other in one way or another. As a university we must take care not to suffocate the town but rather strive to nurture and aid its development.
By Travis Bamford Residence members from around campus showed up in their numbers at the Rhodes swimming pool on the evening of 1 March, geared up either to hit the water or scream their lungs out for their res’ swimmers. The inter-residence swimming event saw these Rhodes students battle it out in a fun-spirited but competitive affair. The evening’s action began with social races which were aimed at encouraging
participation and building spirit. The female residences seemed to excel at this, with their numbers comfortably surpassing those of their male counterparts. Of the residences that competed in the social races Dingemans and Chris Hani won the women’s and men’s sections respectively. “I liked this whole ‘social section’ idea. It made people keener to swim because they felt less pressured to look professional and just seemed to enjoy themselves more,” said Michal Dahan, a spectator at the event. “It also made the atmosphere around here really relaxed from the start, which is really cool,” she added. The competitive division made for an exciting conclusion to the evening, with
swimmers really putting in the effort for their respective houses and getting a great reception from the spectators. For this section, Prince Alfred claimed the women’s competitive honours while Calata House made an impression in the men’s division, attaining a top 3 finish in every race except the 60m Freestyle and Relay Event. They also gained the Mens’ top honours for the gala. The gala was an overall success, with effective organisation by the Rhodes Aquatics team. The races commenced smoothly in a safe, supervised environment that was made all the more colourful by the crowd and music. “It was an evening of a lot of fun for all of us who were involved,” said Jayde Grimmer of the Rhodes Aquatics team.
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Photo: Thabile Vilakazi
Property: Boom or bust? Where is meaningful debate? Purpose behind postgrad
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Every Chukka counts
By Mthabisi Sithole ool-goers had to give up their beloved stretch of water, as the Rhodes University Aquatics club hosted its annual inter-residence competitions in both swimming and waterpolo. The swimming gala took place in the afternoon of Friday 1 March, with the waterpolo taking place the following morning. Saturday’s fixtures got off to a very slow start as various teams didn’t arrive for their respective games, leaving the teams that did arrive to win their games by default. Stanley Kidd and Piet Retief residences were both stood up by their allocated opponents and were left to face off in an intense first game of the morning where, after a 2-1 trail at halftime, Stanley Kidd came back to wallop Piet Retief 5-2. After the Piet Retief game, Stanley Kidd’s goalkeeper David John said he was very pleased with the team’s progress and hopeful that they’d get further in the competition. “The team has done pretty well and especially after that first half, our second half was just perfect. The support from the guys on the sides was also great,” he said. En route to the men’s final, spectators saw the likes of Goldfields and Graham perish at the hands of Centenary and Winchester. A cut above the rest from the word go, these two teams set anticipation for the final to a raging high. However, the hype did not match the final performance. The first chukka (half) was quite even in terms of play, but the second chukka was a different story as Centenary made it into a one-sided affair and dismissed Winchester with a full-time score of 7-1. Centenary player Liam Mills attributed his team’s success to the fact that most guys on the team had played waterpolo before and knew
Inter-res waterpolo, which took place on Saturday 2 March, attracted a disappointing number of supporters. Photo: CHARLES MACKENZIE
No-shows from a number of residences made for interesting matches at inter-res waterpolo
their way around the pool. “We were really lucky because it just so happened that a few guys on the team have played competitive waterpolo before at levels as high as provincial,” said Mills. Despite the fun, a matter of concern was the lack of women’s teams from the residences with only two women’s teams signed up for the competition on Saturday. As a result Beit and New House only played a friendly match before the men’s final. Taking into consideration that waterpolo is one of the university’s premier sports clubs, the turnout from the women was not very encouraging. Aquatics Chairperson Kim Kroon was happy with the turnout for the competition as people are generally very busy on Saturdays. Kroon saw the event as a great success, owing to the fact that it was not an overly serious occasion and was made for people to just come through and enjoy themselves. “This was meant to give people a chance to socialise and at the same time face off against other residences,” said Kroon. “We also get to show what the society is all about because this is where some of our members make first contact with the society.”
Jiu-Jitsu master graces Rhodes MMA
By Travis Bamford Members of the Rhodes Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) club were given a course in kicking-butt when they attended a combined training session held in Port Elizabeth at the Invisible Jiu-Jitsu Martial Arts Facility on 3 March. It was led by Jiu-Jitsu Master Royler Gracie and focused on improving the art of combat in Jiu-jitsu. The group in attendance included a number of Rhodes MMA fighters who were led by studenttrainer Aidan Brown as well as beginners’ coach Kyle Valentine. Royler Gracie, a retired mixed-martial artist from Rio de Janeiro, imparted invaluable advice and gave guidance and demonstrations to his students for the day. Gracie was a professional Jiu-jitsu fighter for over 20 years. According to those under his wing for the day, Gracie’s philosophies were just as important as the fight knowledge that he shared. The future looks promising for the MMA fighters of Rhodes, with the club at its largest and Brown having signed up to compete in the Extreme Fighting Championship Africa later this year. All these fantastic developments are looking like a step-kick in the right direction for the club.
This was meant to give people a chance to socialise and at the same time face off against other residences
-Kim Kroon Aquatics Chairperson
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