UFS did not ban politics: Jansen
Bloemfontein - Perceptions that the University of the Free State had banned political activity on its Bloemfontein campus was not true, said rector Jonathan Jansen on Tuesday.
“It is not possible within a constitutional democracy,” he said.
Jansen said the University of the Free State (UFS) welcomed politics on its campus.
He invited students to participate in all the political activities on campus ranging from seminars and debates on national and provincial politics to organisations within party political structures.
Jansen’s reaction follows a recent protest by the ANC Youth League and SA Student Congress (Sasco) members at the Bloemfontein campus.
Free State chairperson of Sasco, Manyene Lesapo, said at the time they wanted the removal of Jansen.
"He has burned political structures on campus."
Lesapo said they were unhappy with the SRC election and that no political activity had been allowed on campus in relation to the student elections.
An urgent court application by Sasco to stop the university’s SRC elections on Monday and Tuesday failed over the weekend.
The Free State High Court held that there was no urgency in the matter.
Jansen said on Tuesday that a university had to be a place for all kinds of ideas and organisations in the social, cultural, religious, academic and political fields.
“The perception that the UFS has banned politics is simply not true,” said Jansen.
He invited Sasco and any other political groupings that had not yet registered to participate in campus life to do so as soon as possible.
The UFS rector said the student representative council (SRC) elections had been constituted on a basis of independent candidacy and non-party-politics.
The decision to have a non-political SRC election followed a recommendation by a broad student transformation forum and approval by the UFS Council.
Jansen said the decisions by the student forum meant that all students could nominate individuals for a variety of student leadership positions, which included nomination for elective portfolios in the SRC-elections, but also within nine sub-councils that hold ex-officio seats on the SRC.
“The old system which restricted student leadership to representation on a party-political basis only no longer exists.”
He said the student forum's decision ensured that the rights of all students to directly elect their representatives were protected and that the SRC in fact represented the student body as whole and not particular interest groups alone.
The UFS said this decision enabled all students to stand for and participate in campus politics in the SRC elections, though not on a party political ticket.
Jansen said in the current 2011 SRC elections, the Sasco-members were indeed mandated by the local branch to stand as candidates for various elected positions, as did other political parties such as the Democratic Alliance.
It was reported that Sasco was planning on bringing another court application to nullify the new SRC’s constitution.
The election of the new SRC on Monday and Tuesday went without incident.