By Nokuthula Msimango
Trauma and torment are often used to describe residence life and while this may be true with some experiences from the past, UJ Management has taken to replacing initiation with an induction program for new students.
According to Chairperson of Karibu-Jamii Ladies Residence, Lungelo Hlatshwayo, the transition from an initiation to an induction in this New Year comes after management started receiving complaints from students and their parents about the mistreatment of first year students.
The fear of being ill-treated should not be a concern, the focus of students should be on adjusting to the new academic requirements. Thus, each residence is ordered by management to have Residence Academic Advisors (RAA) who offer the first-year students academic support within their residence.
“We are basically a sisterhood, we are here for academic support. We also have RAA’s and study times in place for when the library gets packed, they can come here and study,” said Deputy Chairperson of Akani Female Day House, Tamaryn Pedro.
Upon speaking to several House Committee members from both day houses and residences, it surfaced that they are indeed governed by strict UJ rules, such as no initiation, no usage of demeaning language and no strenuous physical activities. However, they are not given an implementation strategy of the culture.
“The purpose of residence culture that management initially imposed on residences, was to bring people from different backgrounds and mould them as one through the shared values, beliefs and principles constituted [by] their residence culture. Although, management was not aware of the implementation of the residence culture because students were being oppressed in the name of residence culture,” said Chairperson of Karibu-Jamii Ladies Residence, Lungelo Hlatshwayo.
Hlatshwayo added that management does not define values, principles or beliefs for the residence, she explained that it is the responsibility of the residence leadership (House Committee- HK) to come up with the values, principles and beliefs.
‘We [Maqhawe Male Residence] are trying to promote African culture which will be inclusive of all official eleven cultures. Residence management did not give a strict mandate but rather told us what not to do as House Committee,” said Chairperson of Maqhawe Male Residence, Bonga Gcaba.
Residence Management was not available for comment.
According to Secretary of Falcons Male Day House, Mpho Makolomakwe, the House Committee is also involved in an induction program which serves as training and team building to help them in their respective portfolios before they take office.
It is fair to say that each residence comes up with their own culture that will distinguish them from other residences. A common trend in the residence culture is the use of titles for the House Committee (HK) which is not something stipulated by residence management but rather something developed by the leadership of each residence to maintain hierarchy.
“All HK have titles and must be addressed by those titles,” said Secretary of Falcons Male Day House, Mpho Makolomakwe.
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The different residences are in pursuit of different goals for their first years, some seek to create independent visionaries, some seek brotherhood while some simply provide a safe space for students to call a second home.
“My first-year experience was amazing because of the brotherhood. At first, I didn’t understand why we had to wear name tags and show people our names but now I do. First year was the best year of my life, I can’t say much more because what happens in Cornerstone stays in Cornerstone, its pretty top secret. What you should take from this is that residence culture must live on,” said a student from Cornerstone Male Residence, Sandile Rasmeni.
Reporting by Nokuthula Msimango; Editing Kupakwashe Kambasha.
Feature image: Signal board to Student Accommodation & Residence Life.
Image courtesy of Nokuthula Msimango.