Oversight and Working groups to address the demands of the undergraduate students

2 Nov 2016 - 20:30

Dear staff and students
The process of responding to the issues that students have raised is underway. Staff in the faculty who were identified in the final response document to assist with responding to various demands with short term deadlines have been contacted and are busy addressing those issues. However, you will agree with me that the various demands are interrelated and require a co-ordinated response.
The report of the second task team envisioned that:
It is the Deanery’s responsibility to constitute an appropriately representative oversight team acceptable to both staff and students to ensure implementation and oversight. This oversight team (and any smaller task teams arising out of it) must commit to a consultative, democratic, transparent process and careful attention must be paid to the composition of any teams responsible for meeting demands. Specific efforts must be made to ‘flatten’ task team structures which should include students, academic, and PASS staff.
We write to share our thinking about the selection of the Oversight and Working groups to address the demands from the undergraduate students. Once the Oversight Team is constituted, this group will facilitate an inclusive process in order to constitute 6 working groups that will guide considerations about the implementation of each cluster of responses i.e.

  • Student health
  • Student and staff engagement (this includes Victimisation response and Sensitisation education)
  • Teaching and learning
  • Assessment
  • Transport and safety
  • Finance and fees

Selection of the Oversight Team:
The process for selecting the Oversight Team is described below.  The Oversight team’s terms of reference is open to feedback and will be confirmed once the team is constituted. The mandate will be in keeping with the Response Report, especially the key concerns stated on page 2 of the second task team report.
Proposed terms of reference for the Oversight Team:

  • Facilitate the process of establishing the Working groups
  • To give due attention to the short- and long-term goals stipulated in the Response Reports
  • To engage key stakeholders, especially #OccupyFHS HSSC and staff, in relation to each of the Working groups
  • Co-ordinate the responses across the groups
  • Track implementation of the responses to the demands
  • Make  recommendations to the Dean with regard to institutional climate  

Criteria for the range of people to be selected to the Oversight Team:

  • Experience in facilitating participatory decision-making
  • Knowledge and experience of management structures in the Faculty
  • Engaged with students in addressing student demands in multiple ways
  • Familiar with faculty- and university-wide curricular processes
  • Familiar with faculty- and university-wide processes with regards to the student movement  

Size of the Oversight Team:
It is recommended that the Oversight Team consists of a maximum of five people. This is to allow for the effective functioning of the group. This will not preclude broad participation since the group will function in a transparent fashion and involve participation of more staff and students through the Working groups. Decisions taken by this group will be taken through inclusive, consultative processes and thus the size of the group will not impinge on inclusion. 
Process of Appointing the Oversight Team:
Once consultation on the criteria is concluded, we will invite nominations of individuals to constitute this Oversight Team. The time line for this is as follows:
Thursday 3 - Friday 4 November: Consultation on criteria and process.
Submission of comments can occur at a Staff and Student Forum on
Friday 4 November at 1PM in the New Learning Centre; through a consultative meeting with students and via email to the Dean.
Monday 7 November: Nominations for Oversight Team open based on Finalised criteria. Only the names of people who have accepted their nomination should be submitted to the Dean.
Tuesday 8 November: Nominations for Oversight Team close and publish list of nominations
Wednesday 9 November: Deanery selects from the list of Nominations 
In order to give effect to this, we are now calling for staff and students to comment on the criteria, size and process that we will use to select the Oversight Team. Once this Team is in place, it will facilitate the selection of the Working Groups.
Please discuss your comments on the criteria and process with your constituencies, and email your comments by Friday 4th of November to #AskTheDean.
Given the urgency of addressing the demands, my hope is that we can have the Oversight Team in place by the end of next week, and the working groups soon thereafter.
Yours sincerely
Bongani Mayosi