New dawn for RU fresh­ers

Grocott's Mail - - MAKANA VOICES -

To­mor­row (Satur­day 3 Fe­bru­ary) marks the start of Ori­en­ta­tion week, or O-Week as it’s gen­er­ally called around Rhodes Univer­sity. Hun­dreds of new stu­dents will de­scend our lit­tle town join­ing Rhodes ei­ther as first years, con­tin­u­ing stu­dents re­lo­cat­ing from else­where, or post­grad­u­ate stu­dents read­ing to­wards Hon­ours, Masters or PhD qual­i­fi­ca­tions. It’s our job as per­ma­nent res­i­dents to make th­ese tran­sient or di­as­poric stu­dents welcome.

Half of them will be in res­i­dence on the Rhodes cam­pus, and the univer­sity has a time-tasted sup­port struc­ture to help them cope.

How­ever, the other half of the stu­dent body will be in digs, the name given to granny flats or fully fledged homes that stu­dents share. Prop­erty own­ers who let out rooms, flats or en­tire houses have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to be fair and above all, hon­est with their po­ten­tial tenants. If your house has damp or there is a one of the win­dows is draughty, fix the the prob­lem or tell the stu­dents that this is the case. Stu­dents are of­ten accused of trash­ing digs on their way to three or four years of end­less par­ty­ing. How­ever, lit­tle is made of the rather dis­mal con­di­tion in which many houses let out to Rhodes stu­dents are.

Stu­dents will also be rather anxious to do the pub crawl, some of them for the first time in their lives. Oc­ca­sion­ally, their noises will get out of hand, and as “adults” we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to call them to or­der, or even call the au­thor­i­ties if mat­ters get out of hand.

We should how­ever, also re­mem­ber that the 7000-strong Rhodes Univer­sity pop­u­la­tion is the pil­lar on which much of the econ­omy of Gra­ham­stown is built. We all ben­e­fit when stu­dents are happy (even if some of their hap­pi­ness might be fu­elled by over-in­dul­gence, es­pe­cially of al­co­hol). Let those who en­counter stu­dents in ev­ery­day life make them feel welcome and only get stern when noise lev­els make it im­pos­si­ble to get a rest­ful night.

Fi­nally, the busi­nesses that ben­e­fit from stu­dent bud­gets must be feel­ing rather good right now. The only cau­tion is to be mind­ful of usu­ri­ous fees. A case in point is that hous­ing is very ex­pen­sive in Gra­ham­stown partly be­cause so many stu­dents have to stay in digs, with houses near Rhodes fetch­ing con­sid­er­ably more than what they were ac­tu­ally worth. It’s a free coun­try, we know. But it’s also pride be­fore a fall.

Our re­spon­si­bil­ity as towns­folk is to make liv­ing in Gra­ham­stown a mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence for th­ese young peo­ple. Through their sto­ries and the sto­ries of their par­ents, the ma­jor­ity of whom do not even live in the East­ern Cape, we gen­er­ate more so­cial cap­i­tal.

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