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Vote in the SRC elections

- Wits University

In just four days, Wits students will vote for new student leaders who will be their voice in all matters of student life.

Wits students outside the Great Hall

Voting will take place electronically from 16 to 17 October 2018 allowing Witsies to exercise their right irrespective of their location.

The Office of the Dean of Students has set the stage for this year’s to run smoothly, as previous years, and is hopeful that students will participate in the election. The goal is to achieve a 25% voter turnout, which has not been achieved in recent years.

Year

Student Population

Voter Turnout

Percentage

2013

30757

7371

24%

2014

31905

71905

23%

2015

33383

7661

23%

2016

35572

8347

23%

2017

37583

6983

19%

                Wits voting stats from 2013 - 2017

Why students don’t vote

Some of the common reasons offered by students include not enough knowledge about the SRC candidates and what they will achieve, not aware when elections take place, general apathy and disillusionment with student leaders.

“I don’t want to vote blindly,” says Renette Naude, a second year BA student who identifies lack of information as the reason for not voting in the previous SRC election.

Mpumi Mbatha reckons that the academic demands and time pressure are behind the low turnout.

“People are very busy this time of the year. They have submissions, exams and don’t want to be on campus to queue in long lines,” says Mbatha.

Wits has introduced electronic voting to enable students to vote at their convenience. The system implemented for the first time in 2017 was also lauded for reducing some of the problems associated with manual voting.

“There are several benefits to electronic voting. Last year we received relatively less objections when compared to manual voting. We’ve also reduced our carbon footprint as no ballot papers are printed. Students who are in remote locations such as working in hospitals or doing field research are also able to choose their leaders” says Jabu Mashinini, Chief Electoral Officer.

Mashinini and her team are optimistic that more students will vote this year.

“Voting is an opportunity to contribute towards choosing formidable student leaders. The SRC advocates for the needs and rights of students.  It represents the students’ voice in the highest decision making structures of the University like Council and Senate. It is also responsible for fostering a positive student experience,” Mashinini.

Enhancement to the SRC

Wits University announced in April 2018 that the Wits Council had approved a range of amendments to the student governance framework. The amendments followed extensive consultation in 2017.

In sum, the changes promote an inclusive SRC which reflects the diverse Wits student population. The changes also seek to entrench academic excellence as a requirement of all student leaders.

From 2018 onwards, the Wits SRC will comprise of 22 candidates. Thirteen of these will be elected by the broader student body through the general election on 16 – 17 October 2018. The remainder of the representatives will be drawn from equally important student structures such as the All Residence Sub-Council, Wits Sports Sub-Council, Faculty Sub-Council; International students Sub-Council, Postgraduate Association (PGA) and the Disabled Constituency.

“This will ensure greater representation of students, particularly to increase the number of postgraduate students on the SRC, and to make provision for international students and students with disabilities on the SRC whose voices were not adequately presented previously,” says Jerome September the Dean of Students.

Election results will be announced shortly after online voting closes.

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