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Diversity a hallmark at Wits

- Wits University

Wits welcomed 5200 first-year students on Sunday, 27 January in a ceremony that reflected the vibrancy of the University.


Welcome Day 2019

The 2019 cohort and their families were received in true Wits style at an event of celebratory and fiery speeches.  Speakers sung from one hymn sheet in urging students to embrace diversity and freedom of enquiry, which are hallmarks of Wits University.

Wits Chancellor, Dr Judy Dlamini was first on the podium and appealed to students to take advantage of the learning opportunities offered by the University both in and outside the classroom. “Chose your friends wisely,” as these will either prevent or help you to reach your destination, she told the newbies.

Wits University is home to students from different socio-economic backgrounds and 89 countries and thus presents a unique space far different from that previously inhabited by the new recruits.

“When you start attending classes next week, you will slowly start to discover that Wits is a very diverse place. You will encounter new ideas or old ideas that you don’t like. Interact with people that come from backgrounds that are very different from your own. This can be quite challenging, but it is part of choosing not to do the journey alone,” said Professor Barend Erasmus, guest speaker and leading climate change expert at the Global Change Institute at Wits.

Erasmus encouraged parents to support their children and to not “wait until the end of the year to hear things have gone wrong long ago”. Tips to parents and students from Erasmus. Wits Vice-Chancellor Professor Adam Habib echoed the message of parental support.

Sisanda Mbolekwa, SRC President received the loudest applause, having hit the right notes with parents and students as she spoke about the requirements for social and academic success at university. The fourth female president of the SRC did not mince words regarding rooting out sexism, racism, misogyny and patriarchy. She made an impassioned call to guests to support the SRC’s Save a Degree campaign, which aims to ensure support for students with limited financial resources – particularly those from the ‘missing middle’ – to complete their qualification. Address by SRC President.

Mbolekwa was clear in her message that students should be the centre of the University and that her leadership would defend the student voice and rights. Her speech struck a chord with many parents who expressed confidence that the Wits SRC would ably represent their children’s interests.