Developing students for life

Posted on November 13, 2018

The mission of the Department of Student Affairs (DSA) at the University of Pretoria is to design and implement high-impact programmes to enhance student success, leadership, welfare and wellness with a proactive, programme-based approach.

DSA’s Student Development Division is all about developing students’ life skills and career attributes by creating practical opportunities so that they get leadership experience in a safe environment. While their academic outputs are the highest priority, equipping them with additional life skills for holistic development is also important.

A range of opportunities is available for students to expand their scope of campus life through extracurricular activities that SRC sub-committees facilitate, such as Student Culture, TuksRAG and Student Sport. Also, the PDBY student newspaper, Day Houses, Faculty Houses and special programmes such as Golden Key, STARS Mentorship and ENACTUS UP offer further prospects to develop life skills and gain experience in an interactive space.

To help you help your students, here’s a roundup of organisations and services available to help maximise their time at UP:

Official SRC sub-committees are dedicated to culture, community engagement and sport, and include Student Culture (STUKU), which is responsible for 1nSync, a first-year’s concert at the end of welcome week and Step it UP, a singing and dancing competition aimed at mass participation, among other things.

TuksRAG (Reach Out and Give) organises community and civic engagement, and RAG of Hope Day is the most apt example, when students from the university’s many campuses join forces to do mass fundraising for various charities. RAG also guides mass participation in Mandela Day, when many hours of community service are carried out. There is also the TUSHO community initiative, in which students can get involved in community upliftment, while the Kagiso programme provides students with an academic approach to community and civic engagement.

The Student Sport Committee (SSC) has a close relationship with TuksSport and Student Health. It hosts all Campus Leagues, in which student associations such as Day Houses, Faculty Houses, residences and societies can take part. The SSC hosts TUKS-Lympics, a campus-wide athletics tournament, as well as Disability Awareness Day, which focuses on raising awareness for students with disabilities through participation in inclusive sports leagues, for instance.

Day Houses are specialist committees that offer day students the chance to participate in all forms of student life. The four houses – Dregeana, Luminous, Vividus and Docendo ­– are strong, diverse and rich in culture and identity.

UP’s official student newspaper PDBY (Print, Digital, Broadcast Youth media – previously Perdeby) has 70 members, prints 10 000 copies a week and has a readership of 30 000. First printed in 1939, it still serves as the student voice at UP. The online version features extra news and inside scoops.

Faculty Houses and their associated sub-houses provide another platform for student development. The houses take a more academic approach by providing students with opportunities to broaden their perspective on student life through the incorporation of career-driven initiatives.

Special Committees focus on key areas of development. The internationally recognised Golden Key International Honour Society is the world’s largest collegiate honour society and is affiliated with more than 400 universities in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, the Bahamas, South Africa, India and the United States. The non-profit organisation was founded by a group of undergraduate students and faculty members at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia in 1977, and its mission is to enable members to realise their potential by connecting individual achievements with service and lifelong opportunities. Golden Key South Africa was established in 2 000, has 15 active chapters and has touched the lives of more than 91 000 South Africans.

Enactus, a global organisation based in the USA, has about 70 500 students in more than 1 650 universities across 36 countries. Enactus UP aims to create sustainable community development projects through entrepreneurial action. Students are encouraged to implement strategic projects that address the unique needs of communities from an entrepreneurial stance.

STARS Mentorship aims to improve the transition from high school to university for first-years by supporting them socially and emotionally to help boost their academic performance. The programme’s vision is to link each first-year with a mentor (second-year student and above) to assist him/her to become “streetwise” on campus.

- Author Marissa Greeff

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