Campus Politics has for long been taken to be a platform fojr hooligans to raise the circus that has been their key trade and display in the eyes of the public a couple of years past. The public on the other hand appears to have been at ease with these antics and even ended up electing these very ‘popular’ personalities to champion for their rights in the national political arena. Some lived up to their expectations… most did not. That’s Kenya for you.
Back to Campus Politics… My successful election into the Students’ Union Governing Council is among the greatest achievements ever in the slightly over two decades that I have lived in this world. The swearing in ceremony on the 9th of November 2012 marked the gruesome journey of living up to the expectations of the student electorate. The campaigns were individual yet the tenure required uniting as the 9 Executive Members. As leaders we agreed. As politicians we complicated everything. However, the desire to stick to the course remained. We may not have brought the sun closer to reduce the cool temperatures of Njoro. We made the little steps… baby steps to ensure we made a difference.
1.The SUEU Constitution was last reviewed in 2006. Our country voted in a new constitution in 2010. This therefore called for the revision of the Union constitution to comply with the requirements of the reviewed national legal blue print . The constitution separates the official roles from the personal interests of the Student Leaders and thus saves against victimisation. The revised document also increases the representation of the students to include representation for the non resident students, the disabled, foreign students and the student parents. The document currently awaits to be harmonized with that of the SUEU Nakuru Town Campus then introduced for public discussion before subjecting it to a referendum.
2.The Students Union has for the first time established its own website independent from that of the University . The website is http://www.sueu.org . We are currently upgrading it and working on it’s popularization. The website is a vital tool for enhancing communication and also keeping up with the digital era that is in the national vision 2030.
3 . For long we have had students going hungry due to financial constraints here and there. It is not our choice to be born needy. Or to end up broke to even be unable to raise a single meal a day. SUEU therefore introduced the Meal vouchers fully paid for and offered at the offices of the Dean of Students, Student Welfare Services offices, Guidance and Counseling Office and the Maringo SUEU Office.
4. Being a class representative, I have faced the challenges related to communication of vital information to the over 300 students taking Sociology. At the time however, it was easier since a Ksh. 10 subscription of the unlimited texts enabled me to spread the scope of reliable communication to almost the entire class . The first three SUEU Executive meetings resolved to put aside money for the remuneration of class reps at least as far as airtime is concerned. This I must admit is a very noble initiative that cannot go unrecognized.
5. Since I joined Egerton University,lighting has been a key problem and especially in our Halls of Residence (Tatton, Maringo and River View). We may not have initiated the High Masts project or even purchased the equipment. We however piled pressure after pressure to ensure that the promises see the light of day, until finally, a meeting held at the Estates department on Monday 25th March, 2013 from 4 pm,and chaired by the Estates Manager Mr. Choka sealed the breakthrough. Conditions were also put to ensure that the lighting of the ‘highway’ to Riverside, Njokerio and from Tatton to the Main Gate are treated as hot spots and hence always remain lit. The situation has greatly improved since that day.
6. The Office of the Dean of Students has for long been involved in the issuance of the Rattansi Bursary which summed up to Ksh. 0.7million per academic year. SUEU sought to increase the amount further and set aside Ksh 1.2 million to further add onto this. We have already received the application forms for those who applied and are working on short listing the successful applicants for interviews. The amount for the group in session totals Ksh 400, 000.The remaining Ksh. 800, 000 shall be used for the groups set to be in session next semester. The logic behind this was that the load of fees payment is higher in the first semester of the Academic year than in the second semester. Hence the higher amount for the September semester. Another factor we considered is the number of students anticipated to be in session next semester.
7. We have also began and are almost completing the refurbishment of our Offices both at the Students Center and at Maringo. We have set up the SUEU Noticeboards to enhance communication and the Suggestion boxes shall also be out soon. We have completed the carpeting of the Maringo Offices and students who use the office regularly can attest to the improved furniture that currently provide comfort to the esteemed members who use the offices.
8. The big matches usually attract very large numbers of spectators and the lovers of sports can attest to this. The Students Centre is sometimes filled to the outside. SUEU therefore purchased the Projector that is used on such vital occasions. Student groups and even the University are also allowed to borrow the projector for use time and again.
9. The epitome of the Student leadership this academic year has been felt in the desire to ensure the nurturing of innovation and leadership at all levels of student interactions. On Monday, 20th May, 2013, history was written when the Students Union defended and justified the formation of the Student Leadership Development Program in the 304th University Management Board, as a chapter under the Office of the Dean of Students to fully engage on supporting student initiated projects, nurture and reward quality student personalities who have contributed positively to the lives of fellow comrades be it in the religious associations, district associations, clubs and other registered student groups in the University. Students who come up with projects can through the Office of the Dean of Students be directed to defend it before the SLDP and seek funding. Successful projects also incorporate the originators of the idea as Directors under the program. This initiative will also seek to call upon students to be conservists of the little resources and also actively take part in coming up with solutions to problems affecting their daily lives.
I cannot by any means list down the nitty gritties of the achievements of the Students’ Union. And even though we are not perfect and had our own bad days which is synonymous with every society, we have tried our level best to intervene on behalf of you our members where we could. However, just as I have said it in the past, we have challenged you our members to stand up for your rights. There are things we can achieve even without our elected Representation! Your rights are yours. They are universal. No one should agree to have a shoe that pinches them if at all you paid for the right size that fits you. Our time is almost gone. We shall have other elected leaders. However, other than to whine under the table when aggrieved, speaking out our minds and our hearts may be the solution to having them addressed. Stand up for what you believe.
Finally, We have made mistakes in the course of our leadership. At the end of the day we are still your same old friends, classmates, brothers and sisters. We therefore are not immune to mistakes. However, you are still our strength. You are the reason why we are in office. Without you there would be no Union. That’s why when you guys went ahead and booked the rooms via emails, there is little we could do since you are our bosses. This job is challenging, we have tried our level best. We understand there may be better leaders than us among you who may not have vied for the positions we are in. As well as those who anticipate fitting into our shoes . We acknowledge that and wish them all the best. I must say I am proud to have been a key pillar of the current union. And for the remainder of my tenure, I shall do my duties as much as I have been doing it. The same goes to the entire team. My fellow executive Members and Congresses both Halls and Faculty for enabling all of the above to be realized. God bless you all.
That’s the little we have achieved.
Ooko Victor – Secretary General, Students Union of Egerton University.
Ookoscope, the way it is!