BY ARSHIA RAMLUCKUN
Stellenbosch University (SU) has recently implemented a new SUNStudent application system that provides applicants with the chance to indicate a preference of Private Student Organisation (PSO) community when selecting their residence preference, hence providing a PSO preference alongside a residence preference.
The first four single-sex PSO wards were established in 1973. There were three PSO wards for male students (Pieke, Libertas and Oude Molen) and one for female students (Aristea). Students were placed in a PSO based on the geographic area in which they lived in Stellenbosch. At the time, 75% of students lived in an SU residence. As time passed, the student population grew and diversified. These changes called for reforms to be implemented multiple times throughout the last 48 years. These reforms have paved the way for the current PSO structure.
Up until the introduction of this policy, prospective students and applicants had to indicate if they intended to live in one of SU’s residences and then select three residences they would like to stay in, in order of preference. Students were automatically placed in a PSO when unsuccessful in being placed in a residence; however, they could not provide input on the PSO they wished to be a part of because of placements being random per SU’s Placement Policy.
The SU’s PSO general information webpage states that approximately 70% of prospective students join a PSO community. This statistic implies that there is a large group of students whose preferences are unaccounted for, but this disregard of applicants’ preferences has now been addressed.
Nel further explained the use of the PSO preference, saying, “I can confirm that the new SUNStudent application system did make provision for applicants to indicate a PSO community as a preference,” said Dr. Celeste Nel, the director of applications at Student Accommodation and Client Services. “It is not an application, but an indication of preference. We will use this information on preference as a pilot this year to see how we can use preference in terms of the allocation to PSO communities.”
According to the Centre for Student Communities’ (CSC) PSO division, they experience first-year students wanting to change their PSO every year. “Students have preconceived ideas about PSOs,” said Jethro Georgiades, a PSO Coordinator from the CSC.
“We tell students to first experience the PSO before changing, and we’ve seen after three to four days, students are happy,” continued Georgiades.
This initial dissatisfaction resulted in the PSO Office within the CSC lobbying for the last three years to allow applicants the chance to have a PSO preference and not only a residence preference in the SUNStudent application system.
“We had to wait for the Placement Policy to be reviewed before these changes could be made,” Georgiades commented.“Personally, I think it is a great idea to allow future newcomers to select a preference for their future PSO,” commented Stephen Southway, a third-year BSc (Human Life Sciences) student and prim of Oude Molen. “In the past, applicants have been able to select which residence they wish to be placed in and I’m glad to see that PSO students are getting that same opportunity. Hopefully, this will encourage a greater sense of belonging among the students, seeing as they can choose which community they go to,” elaborated Southway on the benefits of this provision.