Archive for the ‘Non-fiction’ Category
The launch of Penny Siopis: Time and Again at The Book Lounge offered fans of the internationally acclaimed artist some rare insight into her work.
Siopis was in conversation with Ernestine White, the curator of her most recent retrospective exhibition at the Iziko’s South African National Gallery, and the audience was held spellbound.
Penny Siopis: Time and Again, edited by Gerrit Olivier, is a collection of essays by leading artists, academics and cultural commentators on the artist and her contribution to South African art. Contributors include Achille Mbembe, Alessandra de Angelis, Colin Richards, Gerrit Olivier, Griselda Pollock, Jennifer Law, Njabulo S Ndebele, Penny Siopis, Sarah Nuttall, TJ Demos and William Kentridge.
The conversation ranged across many fascinating topics, covering the practical process of making art with an icing nozzle (Siopis’ parents owned a bakery when she was a child), an encounter with an overly enthusiastic bedding attendant (while travelling with oil canvasses by train to save money), and the gallery curator’s displeasure as flakes of oil paint fell from her paintings at her first exhibition.
Additionally, the aesthetic issues of representation, the technical challenges of different mediums, and the tricky territory of curating art that evokes powerful (and sometimes traumatic) experiences for the viewer – who may be a child – were part of the evening’s dialogue.
White spoke of the challenge of selecting works from over 35 years of Siopis’ enormously productive career, as well as her intention to make the retrospective exhibition a journey through the six allocated spaces, and not simply a smorgasbord of images.
White said the first room’s focus was on oils, offering viewers an insight into how Siopis began exploring the techniques that became significant trademarks. Siopis perceived her real start as an artist – the point at which she began a critical and in-depth engagement – commenced with the emergence of the “cake paintings”, well after she had completed her MA in Fine Art in the early ’80s.
“They emerged from a crisis,” she said. “I already knew how to paint properly, but I wasn’t satisfied with the painting I’d experienced at Rhodes.”
At Portsmouth Polytechnic Siopis encountered a critical context that prompted her to question what it meant to be a painter, and she spoke about her outsider status in England in 1979 as a white South African. “Portsmouth was a very left-wing institution, very foreign to me. I realised I wasn’t familiar enough with issues of gender and class in an art context,” she said. “When I came back to South Africa all these ideas were bubbling around in my head. I still wanted to paint with the sensuousness that I had in my student years, with an emphasis on the self as a material object. I started concentrating on the idea of the paint as an object, quite literally. That literal treatment of the paint as an object became a concept.”
Oil paint, Siopis explained, needs to be built on the surface of the canvas. “I was able to use that as an idea, building up the layers in high relief, so that is was almost like an object, casting its own shadows,” she said. She built up an object on the canvas that suggested the feminine form. “The paint dries to the surface, forming a skin. It takes forever. I mean forever. It’s still drying, now as we speak!”
Siopis explained how as the oil paint hardens, it cracks, revealing what is underneath. “The oil dries up, just like human skin. We show the process of what’s happening in our bodies on the canvas. This enabled me to start asking feminist questions in a new way,” she said.
For more on the significance of this talented artist, and for the a well curated selection of exquisite images from her oeuvre, acquiring this book is essential. It provides a fascinating illustration of the ways in which Siopis was able to find, create and sustain meaning through her remarkable career.
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Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) tweeted live from the event using the hashtag #livebooks:
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Wits University Press has become the first African scholarly press to be included on the Thomson Reuters Book Citation Index of the prestigious Web of Science. This means our African scholarship will be more widely available to a global audience, and more likely to be included in wider debates. We asked Wits University Press digital publisher Andrew Joseph to tell us more about the process.
The Thomson Reuters Book Citation Index of the Web of Science: it’s a mouthful – what is it, exactly?
The Book Citation Index is a list of books that are rigorously tested by Thomson Reuters for their scholarly relevance and to ensure they adhere to the highest production and editorial standards. It’s a sort of post-publication review and once a book is included on the list it is an indication of its importance to scholarship.
The Web of Science is a much larger index, including journal articles, conference proceedings and reviews, and the Book Citation Index is included in this. In total the Web of Science includes approximately 25 000 books, 12 000 peer reviewed journals and 150 000 conference proceedings. This means that our books can now be “found” in the index along with articles and other types of content which are relevant to the subject or topic being investigated.
Who uses the index?
Researchers, librarians, scholars and, wider afield, Google Scholar and other search/aggregator engines use the index, as a way of ensuring the quality of content. It means that the books are more likely to be discovered by researchers and then cited, or included in further research. In this way our publications are valuable not only because they make important and necessary claims, but also because they add to ongoing debates and writing. The lack of discoverability of African produced publications has meant a distinct lack of inclusion in wider debates, and we hope this is a step towards redressing that imbalance.
What does it mean for Wits Press to be included in this index?
The inclusion of our titles validates our publications as valuable to scholarship and research. It raises the profile of our authors and our books by making them more discoverable. Perhaps most importantly it allows research produced in Africa, and particularly in the humanities and social sciences, to have a wider reach than it currently does. As the first scholarly press in Africa to have our books indexed, we’re pleased that the efforts of Wits University Press over the years are being acknowledged, but more so that the value of African scholarship will have a chance to interact with and contribute to the wider scholarly community. This really is the sort of reach we feel our authors deserve and we will continue to develop relationships like this.
What kinds of books and publications have been included?
Wits University Press publishes largely in the humanities and social sciences but, like most scholarly publishers around the world, we are finding that our titles often cover a broader range of topics and subjects. This move to interdisciplinarity also means that a wider range of people are interested in our books; from scholars and researchers to policy-makers, journalists and activists. The inclusion on the Book Citation Index extends the reach we will have, hopefully to a much broader, international readership. We’re almost done with having our books available electronically (within the next few weeks) too. Soon these titles (and others) will be available electronically to libraries, universities and retailers around the world.
For more info about the Thomson Reuters Book Citation Index, go to www.thomsonreuters.com.
For more info about the Wits Press titles included on this list, contact Corina van der Spoel, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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List of titles included (with more being considered)
Accented Futures: Language Activism and the Ending of Apartheid
African National Congress and the Regeneration of Political Power
African-Language Literatures: New Perspectives on IsiZulu Fiction and Popular Black Television Series
Baragwanath Hospital, Soweto: A History of Medical Care 1941-1990
Becoming Worthy Ancestors: Archive, Public Deliberation and Identity in South Africa
Bushman Letters: Interpreting
Conversations with Bourdieu: The Johannesburg Moment
Disorder of Things: A Foucauldian Approach to the Work of Nuruddin Farah
Eating from One Pot: The Dynamics of Survival in Poor South African Households
Ekurhuleni: The Making of an Urban Region
Exorcising the Demons Within: Xenophobia, Violence and Statecraft in Contemporary South Africa
Fight for Democracy: The ANC and the Media in South Africa
Lover of his People: A Biography of Sol Plaatje
Marxisms in the 21st Century: Crisis, Critique & Struggle
Metal that Will Not Bend: National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa 1980-1995
Musical Instruments of the Indigenous People of South Africa: Third Edition of the Musical Instruments of the Native Races of South Africa
New South Africa Review 1: 2010: Development or Decline?
New South African Review 2: New Paths, Old Compromises?
New South African Review 3: The Second Phase – Tragedy or Farce?
New South African Review 4: A Fragile Democracy – Twenty Years On
One Hundred Years of the ANC: Debating Liberation Histories Today
Origins of Non-Racialism: White Opposition to Apartheid in the 1950s
Psychodynamic Psychotherapy in South Africa: Contexts, Theories and Applications
Radio in Africa: Publics, Cultures, Communities
Regarding Muslims: From Slavery to Post-Apartheid
Richard Rive: A Partial Biography
Riding High: Horse, Humans and History of South Africa
Seeing and Knowing: Understanding Rock Art With and Without Ethnography
Traumatic Stress in South Africa
Working with Rock Art: Recording, Presenting and Understanding Rock Art Using Indigenous Knowledge
Wits University Press the first African scholarly press to be included on the Thomson Reuters Book Citation Index of the prestigious Web of Science™
Wits University Press is pleased to announce the inclusion of Wits University Press titles on the Thomson Reuters Book Citation Index of the Web of Science™. We are the first scholarly press from Africa to be included on this prestigious index. It is an achievement that will significantly increase the visibility of the titles and of authors making meaningful contributions to their fields. Researchers will now have a richer, expanded view of research within the sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities and help ensure correct and increased citations.
The Web of Science represents one of the one the most comprehensive indexes of published scholarship. The Index helps users search across scholarly digital and print books, journals and conference proceedings, to discover potential collaborators and find useful information across more than 25 000 books, 12 000 peer reviewed journals and 150 000 conference proceedings already included on the Web of Knowledge.
The inclusion of the 30 titles published by Wits University Press, with further ongoing submissions, is an important step towards expanding the research agenda of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, as well as of South Africa and the continent more broadly, to be discovered by an international research audience.
Wits University Press and Thomson Reuters look forward to a long and successful partnership.
- New South African Review: 2010: Development or Decline? edited by John Daniel, Prishani Naidoo, Devan Pillay, Roger Southall
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- Seeing and Knowing: Understanding Rock Art with and without Ethnography by Geoffrey Blundell, Christopher Chippindale, Benjamin Smith
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Achille Mbembe, professor of philosophy and political science based at WiSER, is regarded one of the country’s most respected public intellectuals. His landmark book On the Postcolony contests diehard Africanist and nativist perspectives as well as some of the key assumptions of postcolonial theory.
This book is considered one of the most important texts in the contemporary African context, addressing the way Africa is imagined not only by itself, but by those who relate to it.
The Mail and Guardian has shared an excerpt from the recently released updated edition of this 2001 publication, which includes a foreword by Professor of African Literature Isabel Hofmeyr.
The excerpt, a preface by Mbembe himself added to the new edition, is entitled “The value of Africa’s aesthetics”. In it, Mbembe writes about his process in creating this seminal text, what and who inspired him and his experiences after its publication.
Read the excerpt:
I wrote most of On the Postcolony at night. It was in the early 1990s, as the deep shadow of Afro-Marxism was receding. Then, it seemed as if the study of Africa was caught in a dramatic analytical gridlock. Many scholars were peddling increasingly unhelpful maps of the present at the very moment that new dramas were taking shape.
As the crisis in the social sciences was intensifying, innovative trends, even a new kind of thinking, were emerging in fields as disparate as design, fiction, fashion, painting, dance and the domain of aesthetics in general. In all these disciplines of the imagination, something of a reconciliation between so-called African identity and a certain idea of worldliness, if not cosmopolitanism, was in the making.
But a proper biography of On the Postcolony would be impossible without a direct reference to African music. I discovered Congolese music in the late 1980s – a time of structural adjustment programmes, wars of predation, cruelty and stupidity parading as leadership, military coups and deferred social revolutions. The emotional sublimity of the Congolese musical imagination taught me how indispensable it was to think with the bodily senses, to write with the musicality of one’s own flesh.
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Photo courtesy of PEN American Centre
Wits Press is proud to announce that Termites of the Gods: San Cosmology in Southern African Rock Art by Siyakha Mguni will be published this month:
In Termites of the Gods, Siyakha Mguni narrates his personal journey, over many years, to discover the significance of a hitherto enigmatic theme in San rock paintings known as ‘formlings’. Formlings are a painting category found across the southern African region, including South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe, with its densest concentration in the Matopo Hills, Zimbabwe.
Generations of archaeologists and anthropologists have wrestled with the meaning of this painting theme in San cosmology without reaching consensus or a plausible explanation. Drawing on San ethnography published over the past 150 years, Mguni argues that formlings are, in fact, representations of flying termites and their underground nests, and are associated with botantical subjects and a range of larger animals considered by the San to have great power and spiritual significance.
This book fills a gap in rock art studies around the interpretation and meaning of formlings. It offers an innovative methodological approach for understanding subject matter in San rock art that is not easily recognisable, and will be an invaluable reference book to students and scholars in rock art studies and archaeology.
“This book has the potential to change the public perception of San rock art as a relatively trivial pastime and replace it with convincing evidence that many images and themes are in fact based on sophisticated religious symbolism that permeated all aspects of San life over thousands of years.”
- Janette Deacon
About the author
Siyakha Mguni is project manager of the International Rock Art Collaboration coordinated from the Rock Art Research Institute, School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He holds a PhD from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
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Wits University Press and the Goethe-Institut South Africa would like to invite you to the launch of Gaze Regimes: Film and Feminisms in Africa edited by Antje Schuhmann and Jyoti Mistry.
The editors will be speaking about the book, a collection of essays and interviews about women involved in film in various ways in Africa, with Lindiwe Dovey of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.
The event will be at the Noswal Hall in Braamfontein on Tuesday, 19 May at 6 for 6:30 PM.
Don’t miss it!
- Date: Tuesday, 19 May 2015
- Time: 6 PM for 6:30 PM
- Venue: Noswal Hall
Student Housing Centre
Corner Jan Smuts Avenue and Siemans Street
Braamfontein | Map
- Interviewer: Lindiwe Dovey
- RSVP: email@example.com
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Achille Mbembe recently presented a public lecture at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER) entitled “Decolonising the University Now: Five New Directions”.
Mbembe’s seminal postcolonial text On the Postcolony was recently rereleased in an updated edition, with a foreword by Isabel Hofmeyr, and a preface by the author.
WiSER director Sarah Nuttall, who is also Mbembe’s wife, introduced the event to a packed audience, explaining that it is the first in a planned series of conversations about transformation in South African universities.
Mbembe begins his talk by explaining that despite not having been born in South Africa, it is the country in which he feels most comfortable, and adds “no African is a foreigner in Africa”.
Watch the video:
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Read Mbembe’s paper:
Twenty one years after freedom, we have now fully entered what looks like a negative moment. This is a moment most African postcolonial societies have experienced. Like theirs in the late 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, ours is gray and almost murky. It lacks clarity.
Today many want to finally bring white supremacy to its knees. But the same seem to go missing when it comes to publically condemning the extra-judicial executions of fellow Africans on the streets of our cities and in our townships. As Fanon intimated, they see no contradiction between wanting to topple white supremacy and being anti-racist while succumbing to the sirens of isolationism and national-chauvinism.
Many still consider whites as “settlers” who, once in a while, will attempt to masquerade as “natives”. And yet, with the advent of democracy and the new constitutional State, there are no longer settlers or natives. There are only citizens. If we repudiate democracy, what will we replace it with?
Our white compatriots might be fencing off their privileges. They might be “enclaving” them and “off-shoring” them but they are certainly going nowhere.
And yet they cannot keep living in our midst with whiteness’ old clothes. Fencing off one’s privileges, off-shoring them, living in enclaves does not
in itself secure full recognition and survival.
Meanwhile, “blackness” is fracturing. “Black consciousness” today is more and more thought of in fractions.
A negative moment is a moment when new antagonisms emerge while old ones remain unresolved.
It is a moment when contradictory forces – inchoate, fractured, fragmented – are at work but what might come out of their interaction is anything but certain.
It is also a moment when multiple old and recent unresolved crises seem to be on the path towards a collision.
Such a collision might happen – or maybe not. It might take the form of outbursts that end up petering out. Whether the collision actually happens or not, the age of innocence and complacency is over.
When it comes to questions concerning the decolonisation of the university – and of knowledge – in South Africa now, there are a number of clear-cut political and moral issues – which are also issues of fairness and decency – many of us can easily agree upon.
Mbembe also took part in a conversation with the Rhodes Must Fall movement at the University of Cape Town recently. That dialogue is available to watch on YouTube:
» read article
Wits Press is proud to present Gaze Regimes: Film and Feminisms in Africa edited by Antje Schuhmann and Jyoti Mistry:
Gaze Regimes is a bricolage of essays and interviews showcasing the experiences of women working in film, either directly as practitioners or in other areas such as curators, festival programme directors or fundraisers. It does not shy away from questioning the relations of power in the practice of filmmaking and the power invested in the gaze itself. Who is looking and who is being looked at, who is telling women’s stories in Africa and what governs the mechanics of making those films on the continent?
The interviews with film practitioners such as Tsitsi Dangarembga, Taghreed Elsanhouri, Jihan El-Tahri, Anita Khanna, Isabel Noronhe, Arya Lalloo and Shannon Walsh demonstrate the contradictory points of departure of women in film – from their understanding of feminisms in relation to lived-experiences and the realpolitik of women working as cultural practitioners.
The disciplines of gender studies, postcolonial theory, and film theory provide the framework for the book’s essays. Jyoti Mistry, Antje Schuhmann, Nobunye Levin, Dorothee Wenner and Christina von Braun are some of the contributors who provide valuable context, analysis and insight into, among other things, the politics of representation, the role of film festivals and the collective and individual experiences of trauma and marginality which contribute to the layered and complex filmic responses of Africa’s film practitioners.
“From the north to the south of the African continent, this intricately woven collection presents nuanced images of the contemporary state of women’s representation, roles and engagements in the film world.” – Lindiwe Dovey, Senior Lecturer in African Film, SOAS, University of London and Honorary Associate Professor, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Foreword by Katharina von Ruckteschell, Goethe-Institut sub-Saharan Africa
Introduction: By Way of Context and Content
Jyoti Mistry and Antje Schuhmann
1 African Women in Cinema: An overview
2 ‘I am a feminist only in secret’
Interview with Taghreed Elsanhouri and Christina von Braun by Ines Kappert
3 Staged Authenticity: Femininity in photography and film
Christina von Braun
4 ‘Power is in your own hands’: Why Jihan El-Tahri does not like movements
Interview with Jihan El-Tahri by Jyoti Mistry and Antje Schuhmann
5 Aftermath – A focus on collective trauma
Interview with Djo Tunda wa Munga and Rumbi Katedza by Antje Schuhmann and Jyoti Mistry
6 Shooting Violence and Trauma: Traversing visual and social topographies in Zanele Muholi’s work
7 Puk Nini – A Filmic Instruction in Seduction: Exploring class and sexuality in gender relations
Antje Schuhmann and Jyoti Mistry
8 I am Saartjie Baartman
9 Filmmaking at the Margins of a Community: On co-producing Elelwani
10 On Collective Practice and Collected Reflections
Interview with Shannon Walsh and Arya Lalloo by Jyoti Mistry
11 ‘Cinema of resistance’
Interview with Isabel Noronha by Max Annas and Henriette Gunkel
12 Dark and Personal
13 ‘Change? This might mean to shove a few men out’
Interview with Anita Khanna by Antje Schuhmann and Jyoti Mistry
14 Barakat! means Enough!
15 ‘Women, use the gaze to change reality’
Interview with Katarina Hedrén by Antje Schuhmann and Jyoti Mistry
16 Post-colonial Film Collaboration and Festival Politics
17 Tsitsi Dangarembga: A Manifesto
Interview with Tsitsi Dangarembga by Jyoti Mistry and Antje Schuhmann
Acronyms and Abbreviations
List of Contributors
» read article
Wits University Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib says the institution’s commitment to the United Nations HeForShe solidarity movement is a fight it “must be part of”.
Wits is one of 10 universities around the world committing to take action through HeForShe to achieve gender equality within and beyond their institutions.
This work will be done in partnership with UN Women‚ the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. The Executive Director of UN Women is South Africa’s Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
Wits has committed to develop and implement a gender sensitisation curriculum for students‚ faculty and staff‚ including a mandatory orientation for all new students‚ along with programmes that will address gender-based violence.
Habib says: “South Africa’s legacy of gender discrimination and violence is a reality that we fight daily. This is not a fight for women only.
“It is a fight for every person who abhors the abuse of power and the trauma of violence. It is a fight to ensure that the role of men in ending gender-based harm is as active participants and not passive observers; it is to ensure that patriarchy and inequality are uprooted; and to ensure that those who benefit from inequitable hierarchies are an equal part of their deconstruction. It is a fight that universities generally‚ and Wits University specifically‚ must be part of.”
Professor Jackie Dugard‚ Director of the Wits Gender Equity Office‚ said: “The UN HeForShe campaign is an important international platform for highlighting and addressing gender based harm including sexism‚ sexual violence and gender equity gaps through regular reporting and monitoring of the stated commitments of key universities‚ companies and statespersons”.
Additionally Wits’ commitments to gender equality include:
- Develop a comprehensive system to report‚ predict‚ prevent‚ and address gender-based harm on Wits’ campus.
- Use non-traditional supporters to mainstream gender equality on the Wits campus.
- Increase the representation of women staff in the context of South Africa’s complex ‘dual diversity’ mandate.
The global HeForShe initiative is described as “a solidarity movement that calls upon men and boys to stand up against the persisting inequalities faced by women and girls globally. The campaign strengthens the support for women’s rights as human rights by enlisting the support of men and exhorting them to put themselves forward as advocates for gender equality”.
The HeForShe initiative has also been joined by vice-chancellors from the universities of Hong Kong‚ Leicester and Nagoya.
Since January‚ leaders from around the world have made personal and institutional commitments to the advancement and achievement of gender equality. UN Women said these include: Sébastien Bazin‚ Chair & CEO of Accor; Rick Goings‚ Chair & CEO of Tupperware Brands; Dennis Nally‚ chairperson of PricewaterhouseCoopers International and Paul Polman‚ CEO of Unilever.
Source: RDM News Wire
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Wits Press is proud to present a new edition of Achille Mbembe’s On the Postcolony:
First published in 2001, Mbembe’s landmark book continues to renew our understanding of power and subjectivity in Africa. This edition has been updated with a foreword by Professor of African Literature Isabel Hofmeyr, and a preface by the author.
In a series of provocative essays, Mbembe contests diehard Africanist and nativist perspectives as well as some of the key assumptions of postcolonial theory. Through his provocation, the “banality of power”, Mbembe reinterprets the meanings of death, utopia and the divine libido as part of the new theoretical perspectives he offers on the constitution of power in Africa. He works with the complex registers of bodily subjectivity — violence, wonder and laughter — to contest categories of oppression and resistance, autonomy and subjection, and state and civil society that marked the social theory of the late twentieth century.
On the Postcolony, like Frantz Fanon’s Black Skins, White Masks, will remain a text of profound importance in the discourse of anti-colonial and anti-imperial struggles.
About the author
Achille Mbembe is a philosopher, political scientist, and public intellectual based at WiSER (Wits Institute of Social and Economic Research), University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
His previous works include: Johannesburg: the elusive metropolis, which he co-edited with Sarah Nuttall, and Sortir de la grande nuit.
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Adam Habib, Vice-Chancellor of Wits University and author of South Africa’s Suspended Revolution, has issued a statement regarding the dismissal of Mcebo Dlamini from the position of SRC president.
In a previous statement he made last week, Habib censured Dlamini for his “racist and offensive” comments about Adolf Hitler. The new statement comes after the announcement that the Dlamini will no longer be president.
There are some lessons, Habib believes, that all South African’s should learn from this instance of bad behaviour by a democratically elected leader.
Habib emphasises that the decision to remove Dlamini was not taken lightly, and was in any case the result of previous disciplinary misconduct. However, Dlamini’s comments are being treated seriously and the matter is under investigation by the legal office.
Read the article:
I want to say that this has been a difficult decision, even if some do not want to believe it. However, it has brought two principles to the fore. Firstly, it is important to realise that we live in a constitutional democracy. Even if one is elected by popular vote, one’s behaviour must be in accordance with the values of the collective. Secondly, it is important for the full student community to participate in the SRC elections. The vast majority of our students do not participate in the elections and too many subsequently complain about their leadership and their responsiveness to student concerns. If you truly want a responsive leadership, then it is incumbent on you to take the initiative and participate in the democratic act of choosing your own leadership.
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