What you should have learned at school: The University of Pretoria’s Constitution for Student Governance

MARKO SVICEVIC

Every week Perdeby takes a look at something you should have learned at school to assist you in day-to-day life. This week, we take a brief look at The Constitution for Student Government.

The Constitution for Student Governance (CSG) is the document which governs all students and studentorganisations at UP. The preamble of the CSG states that it is founded on the principles of dignity, equal recognition and respect for all individuals and communities, and a commitment to transparent and efficient student governance. The preamble also affirms the principles set out in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996. The CSG binds all students, studentorganisations and the Student Representative Council (SRC). It is, however, subordinate to the Higher Education Act 101 of 1997, the Institutional Rules of UP and the UP Statute. The current CSG has been in place since 2013.

Chapter two of the CSG contains the student bill of rights, which range from those rights embodied in the national Constitution, as well as certain student specific rights. Among these include students’ rights to confidentiality of their records, the right to vote in SRC elections, the right to use university facilities and the right to an enabling environment which pursues academic excellence.

The CSG also confers certain powers and limitations to the UP SRC. It establishes 12 elective SRC portfolios, which constitute of candidates contesting in the annual SRC elections, as well as seven ex-officio portfolios. Ex-officio portfolios are constituted by candidates elected by each of the respective sub-council’s or committees. These include two academic affairs sub-council representatives, two residence sub-council representatives, one Rag committee representative, one sports committee representative and one student culture committee representative. The CSG also regulates the process of elections for the SRC, SRC responsibilities and duties, eligibility requirements to serve on the SRC, the SRC term of office, the SRC code of conduct, and several other aspects related to the SRC’s daily operations.

Section 33 of the CSG further provides for extraordinary measures that could be taken where there are “reasonable grounds for the Council of the University to believe that the SRC is objectively incapable of discharging its basic responsibilities and duties.” These measures include dissolving the SRC, revoking the CSG and making interim arrangements for the functioning of the SRC, arranging for elections to be held within the election procedure, or appointing a Temporary Student Committee (TSC).

The CSG also establishes a Constitutional Tribunal. All students and student organisations may refer disputes to the CSG or request the Tribunal to align their respective constitutions with the CSG. The CSG also provides for the Student Forum – a quarterly sitting where the SRC provides reports to the wider student body on its activities as well as providing a chance for students to pose questions to members of the SRC.

Chapter six of the CSG provides for service providers, this includes Perdeby and the Student Disciplinary Advisory Panel. This chapter also deals with the responsibilities and functions of service providers. 

Finally, the CSG also contains three annexures; Annexure A, which sets out specific rules relating to the SRC elections, Annexure B, the nomination form for SRC candidates and Annexure C, a secondment for nominations for candidates to the SRC

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