Vice Chancellor, Professor David Norris, has appealed to the newly elected student leadership to warn fellow students that COVID-19 was still a health threat.
“The virus is real…, it’s real!” warned Professor Norris during a courtesy call the newly elected Student Representative Council (SRC) and Graduate Students Association (GSA) members paid on UB management on July 8, 2020.
“It kills, COVID kills,” he cautioned as he implored the student leadership to warn fellow students about the surging numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths globally. As of July 12, global coronavirus cases stood at 12 946 620, with 569 368 deaths recorded, according to Worldometers.info.
The Vice Chancellor disabused the student leadership of the notion that young people recovered better from COVID-19 because in the event one suffered from underlying health problems there were bound to be other complications.
Professor Norris said he was concerned about the crowding where students get their meals and warned that it was a recipe for disaster that could result in the closure of the university in the event there was a case of COVID-19. Therefore, he advised the students leadership to observe COVID-19 health protocols especially social distancing and wearing of masks in public places at all times.
On other issues, Professor Norris underscored the importance of good leadership. He said as student leaders they were part of the university management. As such, he reminded them that leadership was about problem solving instead of perpetually complaining.
He said as co-managers of the university the two student leaders must play the ambassadorial role of upholding and promoting the good image of the university. “We don’t have to agree on everything in order to work harmoniously. We can disagree but it doesn’t mean we have to disrespect each other,” said Professor Norris.
Regarding concerns the student leadership raised especially on infrastructure, he said management was aware and was working hard to address the challenges despite financial constraints. Professor Norris noted that in line with the new UB strategy the aim was to make students’ stay on campus a memorable experience.
Earlier on, SRC President, Mr Bokang Dumelang and GSA Chairman, Reverend Thuso Tiego, assured university management of harmonious relations and work environment. The two leaders said their aim was to uphold the good image of UB. They added that they would strive to advocate for student welfare matters in a democratic manner underpinned by open dialogue and honesty.
Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Professor Happy Siphambe, also appealed to the two student leadership bodies to constantly engage with management on student welfare issues. Professor Siphambe further advised the student leaders to make sure that in responding to COVID-19 the quality of their programmes was not compromised lest such dented the reputation of the university.
Meanwhile, Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, Mr Lopang Mosupi, informed student leaders about a new graduate payment plan which allows for monthly payments. Regarding internet, Mr Mosupi said due to increased demand precipitated by COVID-19 measures introducing online teaching and learning, the UB internet service was overwhelmed. However, he promised that management was working towards expanding the broad band to ease the situation.
Mr Mosupi advised the student leaders to utilize funds well and to observe the university’s financial regulations. He said funds allocated to student bodies were regulated by the same regulations as all other university funds.