Sunday, October 30, 2005

Editorial 3

Letters to the Editor are truly wonderful things- and its been great receiveing so many since I took over the paper. Intellectuals fighting is always interestng (especially when the battle lines are the pages of the paper you are editor of) and I dare say the letters I received made the edition. My third editorial:

Well, it’s nearly exam time again and it seems like just the other day that I was sitting in exams, my mind and fingers numbed by the cold. But this time around, as always, heat will be what dulls the senses as perspiration what slows the fingers.

There are however some constants which just make the exam process seem almost cozy in a sense. The nervous wait outside the venue then the rush to see where you will be sitting and the relief to see your name hasn’t been crossed out because of that small chance that the DP warning letter didn’t get through to you. The shuffle into the venue itself, the tension quite palatable as you glance around trying to convince yourself that there are others in there with you who are more nervous and perhaps even studied less than you did. Then there is the obligatory monologue from the invigilators, at this point it almost feels like you are about to bungee jump off a bridge in the dark, the invigilators may as well be shouting “bungee” when they tell you to begin reading time as there is no turning back after that. No way of knowing if the there is a rocky outcrop or two to bash against as you speed towards the ground, no way of knowing if the cord will even hold you and save you from a plummet to an F on your academic transcript. But when you find questions you can answer, it’s like feeling the cord tighten and snap back as it saves you from getting a mouthful of dirt while a wave of euphoria and relief wash over you. All you have to do after that is start writing and believe in yourself. But enough about exams.

Letters to the editor are great things to get as they let us know that people are reading the newspaper and care about what is being said. One of the first things I did was add in the “How to contact us” box in order to open a channel of communication between us and our readers as no newspaper is an island. There were two articles which appeared in last edition in particular which were commented on. The first being the SRC article on the front page which Dominic White wrote a letter about. The second was a response written by Professor Marius Vermaak, the head of Philosophy and the Dean of the International Office with regard to the opinion piece written by Dr Leonard Praeg, a lecturer in the Politics department.

In his email to me Professor Vermaak stated that in his opinion I, as editor, “owes (sic) the University space for a full response, to a very irresponsible and damaging article.” Let me get a few things straight at this point, Activate is and independent student newspaper and thus we owe nothing to any one person or organisation, this includes the University and the SRC, we owe everything however to you, our readers, as it is only to you, I feel that Activate is accountable to. Therefore, as per Professor Vermaak’s wishes, we are running his letter in full and totally unedited. I do however take exception to Professor Vermaak’s aforementioned remark. His letter is getting printed because he is the person in the position to represent the University on this matter, he is “the man in know” so to speak. His letter is not getting printed because I owe it to the University. Turn to page four to read the letters for yourself.

Editorial 2

I wrote this editorial after an unsuccessful round of SRC elections- quorum had not been reached for the executive committee to be voted in: Student apathy at its highest...but can you blame us for not voting? read on and decide for yourself!

I am going to sound like a bit of a stuck record here but I can’t resist talking about the SRC again. I hope we can elect a new SRC and get it over with or will we be third time lucky? To turn a phrase, “They [the SRC] are so useless they can’t even get themselves out of power” I wish I could take credit for saying that but alas I can’t.

We have trapped ourselves in our own apathy. Last year we elected, if their performance record is anything to go by, a stupendously useless bunch of individuals to represent us. We made decisions which were not informed and we are now paying the price. So why didn’t we get quorum last time? The confidence in the SRC had fallen so much that it was enough to turn you apathetic, why bother voting for people who seemingly only want to add another thing to their CVs? But as I said in my last editorial, the blame can’t be placed on the SRC only- we have to look at who voted them in and those people are you and me friends. The question that arises at this point is doe we need an SRC? Is it an outdated structure? I don’t dispute that we need to be represented but then it must be clear we are actually being represented. To the newly elected SRC I say: learn from the mistakes of the past, restore confidence and show us that you are actually doing something for us. But that’s enough SRC bashing for now.

I feel that one of the jobs journalists have is to demystify leaders, politicians and sometimes even celebrities. To this end we have for you on page five, an interview with the Dean of Students, Dr Moosa Motara. While I am not saying that Dr Motara falls into any of the abovementioned categories of person, he is still the person everyone seems to blame when something goes wrong. We are very quick to blast admin about any issue we have under the sun and yes, most of the time (I certainly feel) the grievance falls under their sphere of influence so the complaint is justified. Yet admin still remains wrapped in a mystical cloud of public relations and closed door meetings, the interview on page five serves to lift that cloud a little.

As I sit here writing this there is a massive banging going on downstairs, the sound of the Union in the throes of refurbishment. As you may have noticed, our front page story is about just that. I think Mike Smurfwaite sums it up well when describes the Union as nothing more than an “archaic shell.” It has certainly been this way in the two years I have been here and the refurbishment looks to be very positive step as, to coin a phrase, “if you build it, they will come.” But of course that remains to be seen.

This week, African Affairs (page nine) leads with a story on the Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM) on campus which is situated opposite Smuts. Many a time I have walked past the sign at the front of the building (mostly after a big night out) and peered at it wondering what they actually do in there. Go to page nine to find out.

I hope you enjoy reading this week’s edition look out for our exam edition in two weeks, bye for now.

Editorial 1

My first editorial- I wanted to make it clear what I felt Activate's role was on campus as well as steering how people saw the editorial as just a big fat rant or self-help column!

I firmly believe that it is important to ask interesting questions because then you will hopefully get interesting answers.

So, here is a question for you: did you vote in the SRC elections and if so who did you vote for? By the time you read this the election would have come and gone, quorum (hopefully) reached and the new members of the SRC ready to begin doing whatever the SRC is actually meant to do.

Hold it right there, what does the SRC actually do? At times I am not sure that the members of the SRC themselves actually know. Well, let’s break down what the acronym SRC actually stands for: the “S” is for students, that’s us. The “R” is for representative, which must mean they represent the students (us) and the “C” is for council which means, in my view, that there is a lot of paperwork involved.

Therefore, the SRC, in effect, are elected public servants of the students and who will speak for us when admin does something and sort out things like societies. The keyword here is “elected” as the candidates may choose to run but we choose to vote for them. So, here is another interesting question: if we vote in an SRC who doesn’t do a good job whose fault is it really? Let me answer that one for you: it is our fault, especially if you didn’t vote.

This brings me to another thing I would like to point out, students are great at complaining, and I am guilty of this as well believe me (I mean, what am I doing in this column?). The first thing I noticed when I arrived here last year was the amount of hot air students’ spout in complaining to whoever will listen about anything and everything, but doing nothing about it. But in an election we get the chance to do something and make a change for the better. What happens if you don’t vote then? Are you still entitled to complain about the lack of service the SRC are giving us? My answer is a big hell no! We do just that anyway though which is quite sad when you think about it don’t you think?

Let me just say at this point that while Activate is committed to watching every move the SRC makes and we won’t hesitate to print an article when they mess up, we are also going to strive to print the good things too because often those go unnoticed.

So, what can you expect from us, the new team at Activate? Our goal is simply to create a stimulating paper and get it to you, the campus community.

In this edition we lead with the HIV/AIDS week march which happened last Friday. The reception the marchers got from Dr Woods and the policy SHARC gave him was truly amazing. Rest assured we will be watching to make sure they carry through on their promises. But their actions can only go so far, AIDS is your problem too.

I hope you enjoy this first edition of the new team, have a great vac and you can catch the next edition in the second week of next term. Hold on tight, here we go!

I become editor (wank alert)

I was recently appointed as the Editor in Chief of the student newspaper Activate, I am going to be posting my editorials- just as a wank to myself really!