Culture on campus is turning over a new leaf this year. Sêr, Toneelfees and debating are all undergoing changes. Blaine Josephs, chair of KuKo, the culture committee of the Student Representative Council, said that it is important to constantly try new things, especially when it comes to culture.
“We need to always be testing things and work with a process of trial and error.”
He said that culture on campus needs to continuously be reinvented and adapted.
The sêr nationals that campus knows will not be taking place this year. According to Josephs, there was a meeting held with representatives from the Universities of the Free State, Pretoria, Johannesburg, North-West and Stellenbosch last year. At this meeting it was decided that the different universities will no longer be working with the Afrikaanse Taalen Kultuurvereniging (ATKV) as sponsor, since the ATKV did not show up to a meeting that they called in November last year.
Josephs said that he wants to promote student success in sêr and make it more inclusive this year.
“We are looking to get other universities involved, since sêr previously only involved historically white, Afrikaans universities.”
KuKo wants to involve universities such as the Universities of Cape Town, Western Cape and Cape Peninsula University of Technology. According to Josephs these universities have shown interest.
“If we do not have anything by the end of the discussions with other universities, we will still have our own internal competition.”
Josephs said that he is drawing up new rules for the competition.
“We are also looking for a new name. We could have adopted ‘kleinsêr’, but other universities might not want to take part then because of
the connotations to the term,” Josephs said.
Mixed sêr, meaning sêr groups consisting of women and men, will also feature this year.
“I also proposed an open category in which alumni can take part, and also other groups around the country.”
Dina-Mari Geldenhuys, culture HK of Aristea, said that she is very impressed with the direction that KuKo is moving in. “Sêr is becoming more inclusive, and a platform for everyone to take part in the capacity that they want to”.
She said that Aristea supports KuKo in the decisions that they want to make. “We are defintely thinking about entering a mixed sêr group in the future,” Geldenhuiys said.
The debating competition this year will also experience changes. The SU transformation office will be choosing the subjects of the debates.
The Afrikaans and English debating competition will be taking place on the same day, but Josephs said that it will be possible for someone to take part in both categories.
Josephs also said that KuKo will not be sending a team to the Afrikaans national competition this year. “I know of the competition that
was sponsored by AfriForum at Tuks last year, that North-West University has now taken over.”
Josephs said that the debating this year will use the World Schools structure.
Darren Maree, the head of Eendrag debating, said that he can see that KuKo wants to create a more interesting debating format, but that
more conversations need to take place before the format is finalized. Maree expressed concerns that KuKo will not be sending a team to
the Afrikaans nationals.
“It is sad to me that some students won’t have the same opportunities as with previous years”.
Arno du Toit, culture HK of Dagbreek, critisised KuKo’s decisions and claims that the aim of KuKo is to make debating more inclusive by
lowering the standards expected of debaters to a level where the average person on the street feels he can compete without feeling intimidated.
“This would be equivalent of lowering the standard of Kleinsêr to a level where musical ability is no longer a factor or removing contact
from the game of rugby to allow everyone to believe they are good at something”.
Du Toit suggested workshops to educate potential participants of debate, “instead of lowering the standard of debating.”
Marree said the fact that the transformation office will be choosing the topics is a good move, since it will “create a platform where difficult topics can be discussed with respect and passion.”